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According to National Income Data, Blue Is the Real Color of Money

Eight of the 10 Wealthiest States Backed John Kerry in the '04 Presidential Race

By Published on .

LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Democrats are the party of the ... rich? It might seem that way, judging from new data on the richest and poorest states. Eight of the 10 states with highest median household income went blue in 2004, backing Democrat John Kerry. All 10 of the poorest were red states, voting for President Bush.
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Eight of the 10 states with highest median household income went blue in 2004, backing Democrat John Kerry. All 10 of the poorest were red states, voting for President Bush.
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point bug Rich and Poor States Medium Income Chart
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Two exceptions
The two exceptions on the rich side of the ledger: Alaska and Virginia, Nos. 7 and 8 in median income, voted Republican.

The income data, part of the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, show the wealth of the nation is hardly spread evenly. The richest state, New Jersey, last year had nearly twice the median household income of the poorest, Mississippi: $61,672 vs. $32,938.

Three states scored on top-10 lists for both income and population growth: Maryland, Virginia and California, each of which is expected to see population grow more than 30% from 2000 to 2030, according to Census Bureau projections.

Lots of money, little growth
Four of the six richest states are in the Northeast. The region has lots of money -- and little growth. Population in the Northeast is expected to increase less than 8% by 2030.

The South, in contrast, has high growth potential but, for now, comparatively low income in many states. Seven of the 10 poorest states are in the South, where population is expected to rocket 43% from 2000 to 2030.

Wealth by county mirrors state data. For counties with population of at least 65,000, eight of the 10 richest are in Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. The richest -- Loudoun County, Va., with median household income of $98,483 -- also ranked as the nation's second-fastest-growing county from 2000 to 2006 in an earlier American Demographics analysis (Advertising Age, June 19).

Poorest city: Camden, N.J.
The richest city with population of at least 65,000: Pleasanton in Northern California, the only city in the Census survey with a six-figure median income ($101,022). The poorest city is in the richest state: Camden, N.J. ($18,007).

For the nation, median household income last year reached $46,326, a 1.1% boost from 2004 after factoring in inflation, according to a separate Census Bureau analysis. That was the first real income increase since 1999.

What did consumers do with last year's modest gain? Spend every cent -- and more. Consumer spending -- "real personal consumption spending" -- rose 3.5% last year (and 3.7% in the first half of '06), according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Consumers kept spending by borrowing with credit cards and home-equity loans and using past savings. Consumer debt soared 11.7% last year (mostly because of rising mortgage debt), according to the Federal Reserve Board. BEA data show the nation's personal-saving rate went below zero, in April 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression, and it's stayed negative every month since.
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