Top Dollar: Loudoun County Tops the Highest Median Income in 2018

LOUDOUN COUNTY WAS LISTED AS THE HIGHEST U.S. MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME EARNER IN 2018 OF $139,915, ACCORDING TO A RECENT SURVEY PUBLISHED BY THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU. FOR LOCAL RESIDENTS, THIS INFORMATION ISN’T SO SURPRISING AS LOUDOUN COUNTY HAS BEEN EARNING THIS TITLE FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS.

Due to the recent construction of The Village of Leesburg, One Loudoun, and more, it’s no news that Loudoun County has seen a lot of urban growth to local residents. However, Loudoun was not always this commercialized.

Tony Howard, the President and CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce moved to Loudoun over 13 years ago. Upon his arrival, Loudoun was very rural, mostly farmland. This most significant change over this duration in the County has been urbanization and population growth. “The urbanization of Loudoun County had the biggest spur in the ’90s and early 2000’s. Although Loudoun is not as urbanized as New York or Chicago, it still follows the same urbanization pattern of any major urban city.”

When asked what could lead to Loudoun having the highest median income status for the past 12 years, Howard provided many factors that could have contributed: quality of the workforce, the close proximity to Washington, D.C., and the quality of life. “The quality of the workforce in Loudoun County makes all the difference. The workforce has a high level of education, in terms of college and graduate degrees. We have seen in the past that education is a good predictor of economic outcome,” Howard said. “We have the biggest purchaser of food and service, the federal government, so close by. However, the biggest factor is the quality of life in Loudoun County”.

The quality of life is very unique in Loudoun County. In the eastern part of the country, there is the newest set of internet fiber lines, which increases internet traffic. There a variety of different industries, such as the data center industry, the healthcare industry with the Howard Hughes Medical Center, and then the Dulles International Airport. The western part of Loudoun County has a vast winery, equestrian and farm market.

“What appeals to millennials so much is the activity centers here in Loudoun County. These activity centers, such as Village of Leesburg or One Loudoun, allows millennials to combine their live/work/ play centers into one” Howard added. “The activity centers are one of the many reasons why so many millennials have continued to thrive on in Loudoun County.”

Howard clarified that the U.S. median income does not display wealth “Income is what you earn, wealth is what you keep,” he emphasized. Although Loudoun has the highest U.S income in the country, there is dual income, and the cost of living is relatively higher compared to most other places. As reported by Data USA, the median property value in Loudoun County is $508,800, and homeownership is 78.1%.

Buddy Rizer, the Executive Director for the Loudoun County of Economic Development, had a similar story to Tony Howard when moving to Loudoun County over 12 years ago.

“When I moved to Loudoun, 19% of the tax base was commercial, which is not really a healthy number. Because such a small number of the tax base was based on the commercial sector, it put a lot of stress on the residents. Now, 34% of the tax base is commercial, a way healthier number,” said Rizer. “This shows how Loudoun has transformed. There has been $24 billion in investment in commercial development”.

For a factor in the high U.S median income, Rizer pointed out that it has to do with the educated workforce in Loudoun. Loudoun County has seen a boom in the technological and specialized industries, which has attracted an educated and highly trained workforce. Rizer says he’s not focused on the median income as much as finding opportunities for everyone. This means finding jobs that are diverse and resilient in the growing economy.

Data provided by Data USA shows that from 2016 to 2017, employment in Loudoun grew 211k employees to 216k employees, a difference of 2.46%, The most common industries are Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services, Public Administration, and Educational Services.

Data USA also reported that the highest paid jobs held by residents by median earnings are Architecture & Engineering Occupations ($118,223), Computer & Mathematical Occupations ($116,997), and Management Occupations ($114,531).

To keep Loudoun County growing in not just only the income, but overall, both Howard and Rizer want to focus on keeping jobs in the County. Howard emphasized this can be done by taking advantage of the activity centers and growing the retail and data centers in Loudoun. Rizer highlighted the opening of the metro in 2020, which will initiate a new entryway for the educated workforce and economic development.

Loudoun County has come a long way with its successful journey from a rural area to a commercial center. With factors such as an educated workforce, the proximity to Washington, D.C, and the unique quality of life, Loudoun has ranked the highest U.S median income earner for the past decade. To keep Loudoun County prosperous, a priority needs to be put on creating diverse and resilient jobs that will bring a highly educated and skilled workforce. With the opening of the newest metro station in Herndon, VA, and investment in the commercial industry, Loudoun County is on the right track to urban growth and success.