According to data recently shared by the U.S. Census Bureau, Oregon's metro-area counties contain the state's top wage earners, while households in the southern and eastern sections of the state generate the least income.
Most of the top 10 counties for wage earners are located in the Willamette Valley region, and all but one are west of the Cascade Mountain Range, with Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties ranked first, second and third, respectively.
The information was shared by financial advising firm Smart Asset, which compiled the data and used two different cost-of-living metrics: one reflecting the baseline cost of living for each location, and the other reflecting expenditures typical to someone making the county's median income. Researchers combined the numbers to create a weighted average, subtracted income taxes paid, and calculated purchasing power.
The median household income in Washington County is $82,215, and the calculated cost of living at $52,315 is Oregon's highest, giving the county a median income index of 50.26. Clackamas County listed an $80,484 median income and $52,071 cost of living for a 48.83 index; Multnomah County's respective numbers $69,176, $45,864 furnished a 39.7 index.
Central Oregon's Deschutes County ranked No. 4 in the state, the only top-10 county east of the Cascade Mountains. Rounding out the top 10 are No. 5 Hood River, No. 6 Yamhill County, No. 7 Polk County, No. 8 Columbia County, No. 9 Benton County, and Marion County ranked 10th.
Lake County held the dubious distinction of having the lowest incomes, ranking dead last in Oregon at No. 36; $37,898 median income with a $33,835 cost of living. Its neighbor to the east, Harney County, ranked 35, followed by Wheeler County, Malheur County and Grant County, all located in eastern Oregon.
Washington County is home to some of Oregon's largest companies, such as Nike. In contrast, according to Wikipedia, "The economy in Lake County is reliant on lumber, agriculture, natural resource extraction, health care, a prison and government."
Coos County on the southern Oregon coast (31) and southern Oregon's Josephine County (30) were the only counties west of the Cascades that ranked in the bottom 30.
Smart Asset shared an interactive map depicting the rankings, income numbers and even how each county fares nationally. For example, Oregon's top wage-earning county ranks 141 nationally, while Lake County's national ranking is 2,841 among over 3,000 counties in the U.S.
A national map shared by Smart Asset shows that northern Virginia's Loudoun county ranks No. 1 nationally with a median income of $142,299 and a cost of living at $74,969. Virginia is home to the top three wage-earning counties in the country, while California's Santa Clara and San Mateo rank fourth and fifth, respectively, the only West Coast counties in the top 10.
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