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Census Bureau: Majority of Affluent Counties In Northeast US 285

Posted by timothy
from the water-runs-downhill dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm not a big fan of heat maps, but the US Census Bureau has just released a set of maps that succinctly capture average income distribution across the US. BusinessInsider points out that well over half of the most affluent counties in the US are concentrated in the Northeast (counting Virginia, presumably for the suburbs of Washington, D.C. located in that southern state). Of course, the cost of living is higher in those counties as well. Meanwhile, poor counties tend to be clustered in the southeast and in southwestern states on the Mexican border. There is good news for the northern prarie states, though, particularly North and South Dakota, as they lead in the number of counties with gains in household income over the past five years."
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Census Bureau: Majority of Affluent Counties In Northeast US

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  • red v blue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jack Griffin (3459907) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:55AM (#45693989)
    I'm not from the US, so I never understood why poor people vote conservative? All the red states seem to be poorer yet these are the people that would benefit most from a "socialist" left govt. In every western democracy I've been in there's a clear cut bias, rich white people vote right and all the multi-coloured worker-bees vote left. Why is the US the opposite?
    • by arcite (661011) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:10AM (#45694037)
      But I have observed that whether there is a big D or R as POTUS, it doesn't really affect political outcomes as much as it may seem. Take for example the relatively new in vogue maneuver of 'redistricting' and 'gerrymandering', perhaps the true root of systemic dysfunction. Essentially a practice of 'divide and conquer', where private interests successfully co-opt larger societal movements. Witness the dysfunction in Congress --- the power players love it! All those political lobbyists, media manipulators, spin doctors, fringe politicians preaching destruction of the government, fat cat hedgefunders, and sycophants of every political and religious affiliation ect... Who would want to change the status quo when they're making so much money from it?
      • Take for example the relatively new in vogue maneuver of 'redistricting' and 'gerrymandering',...

        Considering that the term "gerrymander" was coined in 1812, I am not sure how you conclude that it is relatively new. I remember reading in the 1980s about a Congressional District that snaked its way across a state. The district was 1 or 2 miles wide and about 100 miles long. This practice has been going on for basically as long as the United States has been around.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's as if it was named after someone []....

      • by readin (838620)
        TFA has an enlightening chart called "Change in median household income, 2007-2012, by county." It might explain voting patterns a little better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The key difference between the U.S. and other countries in this regard is that in most countries your choice is between a "left" and "right" that both favor increased government power over the economy. In the U.S. the "right" actually proposes reducing government power and, to the extent it actually does so, thus opens greater opportunities for those who are not yet wealthy. As government power increases and it regulates ever more minutely the opportunities for those who do not have wealth and/or political
      • Re:red v blue (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:27AM (#45694235)

        If you really believe what you just wrote (that the "right" actually proposes reducing government and that less government opens greater opportunities for the poor), then your comment explains the situation perfectly, but not in the way you intended.

      • Re:red v blue (Score:5, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:01AM (#45694333)

        Bullshit the "right" wants to reduce power.

        The "right" only say they want to reduce prower, but in reality want to expand it as much as the "Left"

        Take the TSA, Dept of Homeland Security, etc. Or if you want something more recent the "right" republican author of the patriot is pissed the law is being used the way it is. He thinks it is gross over step and proposed a law to change it. His solution? Spend tens of millions of dollars annually on high priced lawyers with top secret clearances to act as a legal advocate for the people so it wouldn't just be the NSA and the judge in FISA court room.

        If you actually believe in the bullshit about power reduction then you are a fucking idiot. Because not one of their laws actually will reduce government power. They just want to push that power to the corporations. The "spending" cuts basically only take away services that the poor use. while taxing them for the privilege of being able to use the remaining. If the "Right" really wanted smaller government the the DHS, TSA, and DOD each need to be cut in half. Cut those down and i will agree to cut equal cuts elsewhere.

        But no one on the "right" will ever actually make the government smaller just shuffle it around so their Rich friends gets all the benefits.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by gtall (79522)

          You are not making the right distinctions, in some sense the gp wasn't either. The Tea Party is not the old right wing of the Republican Party in the sense of Reagan. The Tea Party is essentially composed of libertarians who really do want less government including the TSA, the military, no EPA, no OSHA, no federal money for schools, etc. The older right wing of the Republican Party believes in a strong TSA, a strong military, no EPA, no OSHA, no federal money for schools, etc. The Republicans in general in

          • You are not making the right distinctions, in some sense the gp wasn't either. The Tea Party is not the old right wing of the Republican Party in the sense of Reagan. The Tea Party is essentially composed of libertarians who really do want less government including the TSA, the military, no EPA, no OSHA, no federal money for schools, etc

            There is a "liberal/Rockefeller Republican" vs. "conservative/Tea Party Republican split," but you're putting Ronald Reagan on the wrong side of it. Reagan was against the EPA (by the way, founded under a liberal Republican) and the Department of Education, and Tea Party types are not as pro-military spending cuts as you seem to think.

            The Bushes are among those in the more liberal wing of the party; George H.W. Bush opposed Reagan all three times he ran for the nomination. The Tea Party was formed in part

            • by swb (14022)

              It strikes me that at least initially that at least initially the Tea Party (when it at least appeared to be an organic movement, and not something co-opted by any Republican politicians) acknowledged the corruption of government by Big Business, hence the criticism of government bailouts.

              But the Tea Party DID get co-opted by elements of the Republican party. It's not clear to me if there is a cohesive grouping of these elements. Most of them seemed to be the kind of noisy, Christian anti-tax types like Mi

              • by readin (838620)

                Which is too bad, because I think those issues are really important and I don't think you can get any traction on them by traditional liberal Democrats because their stands on on a lot of issues make them otherwise unpopular. A Republican willing to take them on while maintaining more traditional Republican stances might gain more support.

                You what the media would call a Republican willing to do that? A "racist". He would never get traction.

                • by swb (14022)

                  The racist tag is added to pretty much everything Republicans do, I'm not sure how they would get much mileage out of a Republican challenging the influence of business in government as racism, but I consistently underestimate the ability of the left to twist issues into accusations of racism.

            • by readin (838620)
              Exactly. The tea parties seem genuinely interested in freedom, which makes everyone who has power - the Republican establishment, the Democrats, the media, the rich rent-seekers - very afraid of them. That's why they get so much bad press causing so many people have become dismissive of them and hateful toward them. It all started with the Big Lie about racism. The tea parties want freedom from government, and when the government isn't doing anything it is very hard to use the government for racist goal
      • Re:red v blue (Score:5, Insightful)

        by immaterial (1520413) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:16AM (#45694355)
        As an AC pointed out, your (delusional) reply illustrates the problem perfectly.

        Common sense and hard data both point to strong social safety nets improving opportunity, and increasing entrepreneurship and the number of small businesses []. There are two main reasons for this:
        1. The safety net makes it much more possible to take the chance of starting your own business. Failure means you may lose your investment capital, but your family won't starve, won't lose their healthcare, won't lose their retirement, and won't lose access to a thorough education.
        2. The safety net levels the "benefits" playing field between small business and large corporations. Not only does the US's system of employer-based healthcare make it more difficult and risky for those who try to start a small business, but it gives large, established companies an advantage because they have the size and weight to push for better deals.

        The ONLY people whose economic opportunities are strengthened by the lack of a social safety net are the people who are already on top, who already own large companies and already make loads of money. They don't want competition from employees who can easily quit and start their own company. But even the rich would probably benefit in the long run, because pushing your customer base into abject poverty is not a way to increase sales (IMO right now they're coasting along on their ability to make goods dirty cheap by using third-world labor).
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Of course, the flip side of that is that the increased regulations of every kind of business that are implemented alongside of those "safety nets" make it harder to start a business. You are correct that employer based health insurance (not actually health care itself, but merely the way that it is paid for) make it more difficult to start your own business. Of course, the solution to that is NOT the government taking control of health care and being the only source of a way to pay for health care. Rather t
          • Re:red v blue (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mjm1231 (751545) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @10:12AM (#45694585)

            If you are looking for empirical evidence, maybe instead of looking at the wish lists of Presidents, you might want to look at what was actually implemented by the congress at the same time.

            • Well, considering that a significant factor in the increased income inequality under our current President is a result of laws passed during his first two years, when Congress was controlled by people who also favor wealth redistribution. It is worth noting that 1/2 of Congress is STILL controlled by the Democratic Party which openly espouses wealth redistribution (while being composed of some of the richest people in the country and whose think tanks and political action committees receive the bulk of corp
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Ok, if your post is true then nobody would be a conservative. Many people, including intelligent ones (and most doctorate level people outside of academia) are conservative. QED you didn't answer the question but instead substituted your own rationale for being liberal, which is somewhat irrelevant.

          Southerners traditionally favor autonomy and distrust the government for various historic reasons. Those who rise out of poverty often overly value initiative and hard work, and would rather keep more of their

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          Strong social safety nets (or any other social program, really) are not practical or cost effective unless you're dealing with a largely urban environment. So that's where they have the most success, and where they're most often tried.

          Of no significant coincidence, I'm sure, urban environments have more people, which tends to result in a higher amount of diversity of need and thus, a stronger likelihood that a random enterprise may succeed.

          In smaller locales (outside the general interest realm of massive an

      • The rate of social mobility in the US is the second lowest in the industrialized world (after the UK). Many poorer, developing countries actually have higher rates of upward mobility:
        "Social immobility erodes the American dream", Washington Post []
        "The Myth of the American Dream", CNN []

        This, combined with the highest income inequality in the industrialized world, is the legacy of 40 years of anti-government policies, breaking trade unions, and reducing taxes on the wealthy.

        The roll-back of the New Deal has pr

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” --Steinbeck

      • by cellocgw (617879)

        A true statement today as well as then; but AFAIK this quote has yet to be verified. Undoubtedly matches Steinbeck's views, but nobody's been able to track the wording down.

      • by readin (838620)

        “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” --Steinbeck

        Of course he wrote that a long time ago. Socialism has since taken root.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re poor people vote conservative?
      Think of the USA as a vast melting pot of people escaping the poverty and evil of a faith/class/wealth/royal systems of their old countries.
      When entering the USA they saw that they had many new 'freedoms' but still had a wealth/power structure to consider if they every wanted to move up in society.
      In different parts of the US the party machines where unique to each region and over generations set patterns of votes.
      Local issues of farm taxes, hunting rights, corruption
    • by mjm1231 (751545)

      Or look at it the other way around. Overlay the blue state/red state voting patterns. Now tell me which party's economic policies lead to more favorable outcomes.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        I can live much better in a Red State than I can in the "wealthy notheast".

        This kind of survey conveniently ignores the big picture in favor of the kinds out of context superficial information you typically find in news soundbites.

        It's a perfect example of abusing statistics.

        The "more favorable outcome" is counterintuitive.

        • by mjm1231 (751545)

          Of course, why didn't I see it. I'd be much better off living in a place with a high rate of poverty than a place with a low rate of poverty.

          This assumes, of course, that I'm not one of the people actually living in poverty. Which, if I'm living in a place with a higher rate of poverty, I'm more likely to be.

    • The reason why some poor people vote conservative is because they are still independent-minded. They believe that to be beholden to another is to be in their debt, which puts one in a lower social position. To be self-sufficient is to be proud and free.

      However, there aren't actually that many poor people who vote conservative. Large cities attract poor people precisely because of more liberal government programs, and large cities are overwhelmingly liberal. Look at []

      • The reason why some poor people vote conservative is because they are still independent-minded.

        Far from it. They believe whatever Fox News or Talk Radio tells them to think.

    • Re:red v blue (Score:5, Interesting)

      by djmurdoch (306849) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:47AM (#45694293)

      I'm not from the US, so I never understood why poor people vote conservative?

      They don't. In each state, the poorer people are more likely to vote Democrat, the richer people are more likely to vote Republican.

      However, richer states are more likely to vote Democrat, and poorer states are more likely to vote Republican.

      So perhaps the question should be posed the other way: if your state votes Republican, why is it poorer?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by readin (838620)
        Yes, one of the problems with the heat map is that it doesn't capture population density well. If you look at where the poor are concentrated in large cities in America, you find that they vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Detroit hasn't had a Republican administration in ages. Has Chigaco? New York city was a mess until a Republican was elected.

        There is another dynamic at work as well.

        One should also consider the split personality of what we call "conservative". Many Americans consider themselv
        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          There are plenty of stupid liberals out there, plenty. They'd be stupid conservatives if it wasn't for their drug abuse, welfare recipience, and extra-marital children.

      • by readin (838620)
        Take a look at the "Change in median household income, 2007-2012, by county." map in TFA, Then consider northern Virginia as an example. Conservatives ran the place and it became very successful, leading to population growth. Much of that population growth came from failing states that had been conservative and became liberal (I'm looking at YOU California). These liberal voters entered Fairfax County which in the last few years has become controlled by Democrats. Now it is nearby Loudon County that is
    • I give you this map of the US and its average IQ by state. Compare and contrast. []

      • by Ksevio (865461)
        That's a dubious map - where is the data from? It's not like we have regular IQ tests for citizens. Usually they're based on student test scores.
      • by readin (838620)
        I would be interested in seeing the median IQ too.
      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Something you should probably consider is youth exodus, for both maps.

        The best and brightest tend to leave home at a young age and never come back. They go to where the opportunity is, which, if you have an advanced degree or a specialist degree, is not anywhere near your home state (more often than not, if it's got a low population density).

        Also, other data/studies I've read contradict this map. For instance, CA has one of the lowest IQs in the country. Observe:

    • Not all poor people vote conservative, look at how all the inner city areas vote. Also, "conservatives" don't like the idea of govt handouts. Not that this would prevent the trailer trash from taking the welfare check, but this would go against a basic conservative belief.
    • by cellocgw (617879)

      It pretty much comes down to "you can't fix 'stupid' ."

    • by Livius (318358)

      Normally, people embrace beliefs that favour their own self-interest. People who are rich believe in capitalism, people who are poor believe in socialism, and people with nothing believe in communism.

      For all their talk, the US, especially the less educated, subconsciously believe in the Great Chain of Being, the mediaeval notion that people have a divinely ordained place in a social hierarchy. Since God choose the rich to be rich, and the poor to be poor, it is God's will that the rich steal from the poor

    • by fatphil (181876)
      This "left" you speak of, where is it?
      Certainly not in the UK:
      Duverger's law in action...
    • by Flammon (4726)

      All the red states seem to be poorer yet these are the people that would benefit most from a "socialist" left govt.

      Disclaimer, I'm a reforming socialist.

      Educate yourself before making such ridiculous claims.
      Starting with the basics, watch the Free to Choose series by Milton Friedman. []

    • by elbonia (2452474)
      That's not that case AT ALL. Take a look at California which has a very wealthy population, the rich there lean more to the left. The rich put [] Obama into office. Also in the South, Republicans tend to provide the people with most of their jobs since Republicans are very heavy on defense spending. Most military bases [] and recruitment [] are in the South and with the US spending [] nearly 3/4 of a trillion dollars each year on defense the South gains the most.
    • Re:red v blue (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EmagGeek (574360) <> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @12:56PM (#45695729) Journal

      It's simple, really.

      They believe more in personal responsibility than shared responsibility. I live in the South, and the overwhelming majority of people I know would rather work hard for what they earn than take it from someone else without working for it. They believe that you must earn what you have, rather than simply be given it. And, they are okay with the fact that they don't have as much as others. They are happy with what they have.

      I've lived in ultra-liberal and ultra-conservative parts of the country, and everywhere in between. The liberals I know are miserable. They can never be happy with what they have - they always see the grass being always greener elsewhere. They are also overwhelmingly underachievers with expectations that their slack will be taken up by "someone else."

      Also, you have to take the data with a grain of salt. I live in a "poor" area by national standards - the median individual income in my city is approximately $30,000. However, the median home price is only about 2.5x. You can buy a "nice" home for $120-140k. My wife and I recently purchased a 2000 square foot home on 2 acres for $140k.

      So, it's important not to confuse "poor" with "behind in the inflation race."

      As far as my personal beliefs, I would rather shovel shit for minimum wage that reach into your wallet and steal your money. That is wrong, and I won't do it. So, it's not about voting in my own self interest, it is about voting for what is right.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Its due to people voting their social beliefs. The social conservative movement has been quite successful in maintaining a faithful voting block which maintains a wealthy minority in power at the expense of their political base by exploiting their religious beliefs.

    • Re:red v blue (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @02:20PM (#45696551) Homepage Journal

      Having done business with local governments around the country, I can tell you that the stereotypes about southerners or northeasterners are inaccurate. It's not like everyone from Georgia is a conservative and everyone from Massachusetts is a liberal. You find the same *kinds* of people everywhere, but in slightly different mixes.

      Control of most states happens at the margins. If you have slightly more conservatives in a state, you get consistent conservative victories and if you have slightly more liberals you get consistent liberal victories. Incumbents tend to get re-elected too; that gives the ascendant fringe leverage over the low-information middle voters, and puts the weaker side in an up-hill battle for success. Lack of success for a minority party powerfully weakens that party, and it may have difficulty fielding strong candidates. Things tend to *look* hopeless after several decades of dominance by one party, but I think that's an illusion. A strong centrist candidate can win anywhere against a weak majority party candidate, as with Scott Brown who won the Ted Kennedy Senate seat in Massachusetts 2010.

      Red states tend to have a history of hard luck and social upheaval, and this produces marginally more skepticism about government. By contrast Massachusetts, indisputably the bluest state in the nation, has enjoyed remarkable good fortune since the founding of the nation, and that produces *marginally* less skepticism about government here. But it's still there. In Massachusetts you still hear *exactly* the same range of opinions as you would in a red state. It's just that minority parties are structurally disadvantaged in states where one party has had a long record of success.

      We just had a special election here to fill Ed Markey's congressional seat. The Democratic winner walked away with 65.9% to the Republican's 31.7%. That may seem like a landslide, but consider this. Almost a third of the voters came out for a totally unknown Republican, a political neophyte who nobody thought had a chance of winning against a well-known and popular politician. That strikes me as a remarkable showing, and I think it shows that even the bluest state is more purple than we imagine.

    • Well this affects a lot of people. You'll often hear American Democrats say the 'poor' vote against their self interest.

      That's actually a remarkably arrogant statement. As if they 'know' Democratic policies benefit the poor.

      In reality, it is much more complex.

      1. I'm in Canada and a lot of poor people anecdotally have changed to either vote NDP (very left) or conservative. Their reasons are that the Liberals (more similar to Democrats in the US) aren't working for their interests. They work for the public se

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      I live in the US and I don't see the division you're speaking of. It's more like:

      * entitlement and statist culture votes left: yuppies, inner-city citizens, welfare recipients, Marxist idealists, etc.
      * self-reliant and culturally conservative culture votes 'right': business owners, contractors, people who depend on strong economic growth for livelihood

      IE, it's not a racial thing. (Of course, there's a looooot of back and forth. Eg. a small family farmer voting for a Democrat (eg. left) because of farm subsi

    • by tomhath (637240)
      It's not the opposite in the US. The difference is that the US has a large, predominately white working middle class. Not rich and no desire to depend on the government. They tend to vote more conservatively than people who expect the government to support them.
  • Looks quite green. What do they get up to there? Big agro / natural resources?

  • Hey, this is an easy one. Just move 9/10ths of those people out of the cities and force them to live in rural counties. Problem solved! No more "inequality"

    Something must be done
    This is something,
    Therefore it must be done.

    • Just move 9/10ths of those people out of the cities and force them to live in rural counties.

      . . . or the other way around.

      There is plenty of room on the sprawling Kennedy Mansion estate in Hyannis Port for a trailer park. The Kennedy's are always talking about helping out the poor folks like me. I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I set up camp in my trailer on their front lawn.

  • Those maps are reasonably accurate from a geographic point of view, but they hugely distort the actual distribution of wealth in the population, because the population isn't distributed evenly. They would be less misleading if they had used cartograms, e.g. this one of 2012 election results []. Those would show that there is a big concentration of wealth on the west coast and near Chigago as well as the one on the east coast.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Wealth and affluence aren't the same thing. Even income and affluence aren't the same thing.

      If I made double what I do now but lived in the "wealthy northeast", I would have LESS wealth than I do now rather than more. I probably wouldn't have any more spending power either. My "affluence" improvement would simply be a mirage.

  • Of course, the cost of living is higher in those counties as well.

    If there weren't so many highly paid people living and working there, chasing housing, food and services with their dollars, perhaps the cost of living wouldn't be as high.

    Or you could say ...

    Of course, the cost of living is lower in the poor counties as well.

  • by jfischersupercollid (99938) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:31AM (#45694387)
    The counties with the sudden increase in income match up with the Bakken oil patch. This is a decent article with a map to illustrate []

    Sadly, the oil will be extracted, the land will be poisoned, and the workers will leave for another boom and/or gold rush elsewhere, so the counties will be no better off unless they tax the oil extraction effort now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "so the counties will be no better off unless they tax the oil extraction effort now."

      And they don't really. The area of Dickinson already went through an oil boom in the late 70s early 80s.
      They didn't learn from their mistakes. Most of the area around Villard and to the west was a testament to what happens when you think the money will never stop flowing.

    • The local governments will spend the new found wealth like drunken sailors. When the oil dries up, they will be left with a giant deficient on the balance sheet and cry for help.
  • by buddyglass (925859)
    Heat map by county seems like too blunt an instrument. In every county I've lived in there have been pockets of concentrated wealth and pockets of extreme poverty. In the same county. Not sure how useful a county-wide average is.
  • If you don't want the heatmap approach, this is a good way of exploring the data: []

  • I can understand almost all the rich patches, but have not clue about the huge area of northern Nevada.
    Anyone have the clue on why that huge area is so high?
    • by PPH (736903)
      Low tax rates.
    • For a guess, the area is sparsely populated, so a few well-off people can skew the statistics. Note, however, that it's not the deep green of the most prosperous areas, but the medium green of incomes near $65,000.
  • That's not a heatmap guys. It's a Choropleth map.

  • Here's why the Northeast has so much affluence: the extreme earning wealth from the financial sector around New York City. You have a LOT of money managers in the New York City area earning yearly incomes that would make even Yankees' 3B Alex Rodriguez (before he got into his recent troubles with illegal drug doping) seen like a poor man in comparison in terms of earnings per year.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long