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Incomes Are Up the Most in Washington, D.C.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The U.S. economy has a lot of moving parts, along with substantial geographical disparity from state to state, city to city, town to town.

The Census Bureau knows this, and has taken the barometer out to measure the most prosperous cities in the country.

The agency's American Community Survey aims to benchmark income, poverty and health insurance across the 50 states and, somewhat surprisingly, income and poverty levels aren't all that different in our cities (with some exceptions, as laid out below.) It suggests the economic recovery is fairly stable, and the economy seems to be raising boats in uniform fashion.

Still, one city has to finish at the top of the Census Bureau's list of most prosperous metropolitan areas, and this year, that city is Washington, D.C..

According to the survey, the District of Columbia saw its median household income rise 23% from 2000 to last year, winding up at $66,583 from $53,995.

No doubt the nation's capital is doing so well because it's home to so many federal government agencies, including the White House and executive branch, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and scores of others. The budget for the Department of Defense alone stood at $553 billion last year, guaranteeing thousands of jobs for the D.C. metropolitan areas.

Other region are doing well for different reasons.

North Dakota, thanks to a boom in oil and natural gas, saw its median household income rise by 17% in the past dozen years. Tens of thousands of jobs have opened up as energy companies descend on the Roughrider State.

Other states experiencing income booms are Louisiana (up 4.2% thanks to an influx of oil and gas jobs) and South Dakota (up 4.1% primarily due to the same fracking boom boosting its northern neighbor.)

On the flip side, a decline in manufacturing jobs, especially in the auto sector, has decimated Michigan.

Income declines in Michigan are down almost 20% from 2000 to last year as auto manufacturers move their jobs to states with more affordable worker compensation rates and to countries such as Mexico, where the average per-hour salary is only $4 to $5 per hour, compared with $28 per hour in Michigan.

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