Howard County is now relatively less affluent

Comparing Howard County median household income to other jurisdictions

After looking at the median household income of Maryland relative to other states and the District of Columbia, I now turn my attention to looking at Howard County specifically. Unfortunately U.S. Census Bureau data on median household income at the county level does not go back nearly as far as state-level data. The earliest county-level data I can find dates from 2005 and the beginning of the American Community Survey.

The graph above shows all the data I could find on Howard County median household income, compared to a select set of other jurisdictions. All values are in current dollars as of the year of the survey. Thus, for example, the values for 2005 are expressed in 2005 dollars, the values for 2006 are in 2006 dollars, and so on.

I chose the other jurisdictions as follows:

  • Howard County has traditionally been compared with Loudoun County, Virginia, as the most affluent counties in Maryland and Virginia respectively. For this graph I also added Stafford County, Virginia, a rapidly growing county straddling I-95 south of D.C. just as Howard County straddles I-95 north of D.C.

  • I paired Montgomery County and Fairfax County, the largest and most affluent of the close-in suburban jurisdictions.

  • I paired D.C. and Baltimore city as the respective urban jurisdictions of the Washington-Baltimore metro area.

  • Finally, I added Anne Arundel County as one of Howard County’s most affluent neighbors in Maryland.

Here’s some immediate takeaways from the graph above:

  • Howard County experienced a significant drop in median household income from 2016 to 2017.

  • Northern Virginia continues to outpace central Maryland when it comes to median household income, with Loudoun County still way out in front, Fairfax County continuing to lead Montgomery County, and Stafford County having caught up to Howard County.

  • Similarly the District of Columbia is widening the income gap between itself and Baltimore city.

This second graph shows the ranking of Howard County over the years versus the most affluent local jurisdictions. The story is similar to that from the previous graph:

  • Loudoun County has maintained its position for the last ten years as the most affluent U.S. county as measured by median household income, with Fairfax County also consistently in the top ten, joined by Stafford County.

  • Both Montgomery County and (more recently) Howard County have dropped out of the top ten. Anne Arundel County was never in it, and now sits at #30.

Overall this reinforces the story of northern Virginia’s economic success and suburban Maryland’s relative decline.

I’ll next turn my attention to median household income within Howard County itself, looking at Census data by census tract. See you next week!