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Northern Virginia, Led By Loudoun County, Continues To Dominate Income Levels Across The State

December 20, 2001-- Even as Virginians’ incomes grew at a record pace in the last of the 1990s boom years, disparities between rich and poor and among different regions of the state were disturbingly pronounced, according to a University of Virginia study.

The analysis of state income tax data by U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service showed that the median adjusted gross income (AGI) for married couples in 1999, the most recent figure available, was $53,745, a record. This was a gain of 5.7 percent above the previous year and was the fifth straight year of gains in real income for Virginians, said the report’s authors, economists John L. Knapp and Stephen C. Kulp. (The median is the income level at which half of those who filed taxes reported more and half reported less.)

The five localities with the highest median incomes for couples all are in Northern Virginia and all had a heavy concentration of tax filers in the upper income brackets. The localities are Loudoun County ($78,798), Fairfax County ($78,168), Falls Church ($77,598), Arlington County ($75,298), and Prince William County ($69,936). For the first time, Loudoun surpassed Fairfax County as the state’s income leader, reflecting Loudoun’s economic growth as part of the Washington, D.C. technology center and its attraction of many high-income, well-educated new residents, Knapp and Kulp said.

In both Loudoun and Fairfax, well over half the tax returns were above $75,000.

By contrast, the five localities with the lowest incomes — all in rural western Virginia — had about 25 percent of tax returns with less than $15,000, well below the 1999 federal poverty level of $16,895 for a family of four.

The low income areas are the counties of Highland ($30,843), Russell ($29,597), Dickinson ($27,903), Buchanan ($27,894), and Lee ($26,770).

The localities with the slowest income growth rates also were in western Virginia, reflecting the continuing decline of the region’s coal mining industry.

Throughout the state, income inequality — the gap between higher incomes and lower ones — continued to increase dramatically, the economists said. An index of income concentration that measures inequality showed a sharp increase for the fifth straight year. Part of the growing inequality was likely due to stock market gains concentrated in high-income households, Knapp and Kulp said. The highest income inequality was found in Goochland County, followed by Richmond City, Lancaster County, Williamsburg City, and Albemarle County.

The full report and detailed information for all localities is on the Cooper Center for Public Service Web site at

ftp://ftp.virginia.edu/pub/cps/income/agi99rn.pdf

For additional information John Knapp and Stephen Kulp may be reached at (434) 982-5604

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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