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Seattle overtakes Boston as third-richest US city by household income

The Space Needle and the Seattle skyline are shown against a cloudy sky, Thursday, April 30, 2020, as seen from Kerry Park.Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Seattle overtook Boston to become the third-richest major US city by household income, while Charlotte jumped two spots in the rankings after enjoying a strong rebound from the pandemic, according to new data from the Census Bureau.

Median household incomes for 2021 ranged from $116,005 in the San Francisco metro area to $62,951 in Tampa, according to the bureau’s study of the country’s 25 biggest cities. Nationwide, the figure was $69,717 last year.

The recovery from Covid-19 has been uneven across US cities, with economies disrupted as businesses and workers relocated. In Dallas, for example, employment has surged by 234,300 jobs since 2019 — but the city fell two places on the rankings for median income compared with 2019. Neighboring Houston saw a similar drop.


The median income in four metros — San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle and Boston — exceeded $100,000 in 2021. Seattle and Boston swapped places in third and fourth spots, while San Diego overtook Denver to claim fifth place.

Among the largest cities, New York City and Los Angeles retained their position at 9th and 11th respectively, while Chicago fell to 13th from 12th position and Atlanta climbed one spot to 14th.

The four cities that saw a “statistically significant” decline in median household income from 2019 to 2021 were Chicago, Houston, New York City and San Francisco, the Census Bureau said. It said the new study makes comparisons between those years because the survey for 2020 was skewed by the difficulties of collecting data at the height of the pandemic.