Arlington Second Only to Manhattan In…

by ARLnow.com June 27, 2011 at 9:30 am 6,471 58 Comments

Civic boosters once tried to brand Rosslyn as “Manhattan on the Potomac.”

The connection between Times Square and N. Lynn Street pretty much stopped at the WJLA news ticker, but there is one actual similarity between Manhattan and Arlington as a whole.

Among U.S. counties nationwide, Arlington is second only to Manhattan in terms of average wage per job.

Recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that Manhattan workers make an average of $109,028, compared to the $102,373 average income of Arlington workers.

According to the Business Journals, Manhattan and Arlington “are the only two major U.S. counties where average compensation is higher than $100,000 per job.”

  • Steve

    Is this wage per job IN arlington, or people who just live in arlington? I make that much, but work in DC. Arlington has nothing to do with how much money I earn. In fact I would keep more if I didn’t live here.

    • Glebe Roader

      It’s for people who WORK in Arlington.

      • Hattie McDaniel

        When the BRAC moves all of these jobs out of Arlington, the ranking will fall.

    • Terry

      “In fact I would keep more if I didn’t live here.”

      Really, how? Income taxes in DC are much higher.

  • JimPB

    The average (mean) is neither the most appropriate measure nor is a single measure really adequate.

    In the cases before us, a set of very high pays will elevate the mean, possibly considerably. The resulting mean is then unrepresentative.

    The median — the midpoint in the range of pays from the lowest to the highest — would be more representative of typical compensation.

    The other measure that is needed is the distribution of compensation in the populations.

    • doodly

      Good point.

      More on these numbers: I think this is for people who work in Arlington, not residents. The median household (not individual) income for Arlington residents is something like 93-100k.

      • Webster

        I think you are right. The highest paying jobs in the county are probably held by people who live out in the wealthier suburbs like Loudoun. Most of the rich want to live outside of all the bland density in Arlington and would rather have a place where their wealth can buy something substantial and exploit the economic diversity.

        • AllenB

          The multitude of very high priced condo’s, townhouses and homes suggests otherwise.

          Are you suggesting that Arlington is bland in comparison to Loudoun? You must have never been to Loudoun. It’s quite the snoozer.

          • Webster

            There’s a multitude of pricey real estate outside of Arlington too, Chief. People in Arlington like living all crunched up with their neighbors in boring looking 10 story buildings. People in the suburbs tend to have more land. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just the way it is.

          • AllenB

            You obviously didn’t read your post or my response. I never said there wasn’t pricey real estate outside of Arlington, merely that the wealthy like to live here as well.

            People in the suburbs do tend to have more land but then they build cookie cutter McMansions on it. And on the rest of the land, they tend to build outlet malls, and big box stores. So please, don’t even try to say that Arlington is bland in comparison to Loudoun.

          • doodly

            There’s a difference between living in a building and looking at it from the outside. Life is likely much more interesting when you’re living in Arlington than Loudoun. And there are plenty of people in Arlington who live in single-family suburban homes too, perhaps the majority still do.

          • The interesting thing is folks in Loudoun would say the same about Arlington. Folks in Fargo would likely claim the same thing. People usually choose to live where they are best suited and enjoy what the particular area has to offer. One is no better than the other from the dweller’s perspective.

          • doodly

            Sure. Everyone should live the way they want to. I was just pointing out that you can’t judge a lifestyle by the outside of a building.

    • Vik

      A median figure would be useful, but the median would be high as well, as it already is for the metro as a whole. The DC area always ranks pretty high for median incomes because of the large middle/upper middle class in this area. But, we don’t have as many super rich people as some other places, either. Some think that’s changing with the area’s economy being strong along with increased gov’t-related private sector spending, but I don’t think it has dramatically changed.

    • R.Griffon

      Absolutely true, but it’s also possible that the report DID use the median, as this tends to be the measure used by any serious study for exactly that reason. I think it’s entirely possible that it’s just being reported as “average” due to common mathematical illiteracy. Most Americans (and journalists) don’t know the difference.

      Since there’s no link to the actual report, we’ll never know.

      • The BLS often reports wage averages, so we have no reason to doubt the Biz Journals article.

    • Arlwhenever

      The numbers cited are described as compensation, not salary, which means benefits are included; these very high for federal employees. There is TSP matching (up to 5% of pay), FERS employer contribution (11.7 %), health care premiums (probably $5 to $10K), FICA (7 or so percent), accumulated annual leave, life insurance, commuter benefits etc. It’s easy for a GSer in these part to cost $30K or more in benefits.

      • Arllater

        Pretty sure the numerous local Government contractors are pulling in higher compensation. There’s a reason Federal workers leave for contractor work – it’s not because they’re being compensated less by the contractor.

        I can say that when I switched from Fed to contractor, my total compensation, including benefits, went up by over $20K.

        • Courthouse Res

          I am considering leaving Fed for contractor. I am worried though because everyone always brags about the benefits for federal workers (really not THAT great) and then the stability too. If I go to a contractor it would be one of the larger, established ones. Do you ever regret making the leap?

          • KalashniKEV

            Be prepared to EARN that extra money if you do…

          • Arllater

            You’ll definitely get paid more. Your benefits will be better. You should get some type of stock incentive if your contractor is one of the major ones. I’d expect a 50 hour work week instead of a 40, and you’ll need to be responsive if something comes up on a weekend or after hours. Regardless, even with that extra 10 hours a week, you’ll be paid more total compensation per hour I’d guess, especially if you have a clearance or a specialty. Contractors are so strapped in finding bodies to fill their contract requirements, I don’t think the stability is all that different around here.

        • Arlwhenever

          Benefits are high for federal contractors too because contracting rules passes those coss right through to the government as overhead. Even when contracts are terminated the beltway bandits go after the Feds for unfunded and underfunded retirement liabilities accrued under the contract. This has all combined together to make Arlington the safest place to live and work (economically) the last several years. That will change rather dramatically within 3 or 4 years. Time look at selling your high-priced inside the beltway real estate (if you have any) and plan your exit strategy if you are getting up there in years.

          • Courthouse Res

            That’s WHY I want to leave the Fed. I am sick of not being utilized. It’s so boring and I want to work for my paycheck. I am young and def. do not have any real estate. I have four years experience (three in government) and a security clearance. I am in the interviewing process with one of the firms and I am excited about it, but nervous too. And people make me more nervous when they say things like, “oh good luck if your contract gets cut” and “the benefits are so much better in the govt, why would you leave?” I have numerous friends who contract though and they all make more money than me and have never even come close to losing their jobs.

  • Arrrrrlington

    S—. I’m poor.

  • ArlForester

    Walter Tejada is doing what he can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    • MC 703

      Yeah what a jerk supporting affordable housing

      • ArlForester

        If he stopped there, you might have a point. He doesn’t. You do not.

        • Josh S

          This is the stereotypical pot calling the kettle black. You make a random, nonsensical ad hominem attack on Tejada and then when the sarcastic, almost as nonsensical response comes in you accuse that person of not “hav[ing} a point.” What an exchange.

          Is there something that Tejada has done that leads you to (apparently) conclude that he’s trying to reduce the average income of Arlington workers?

          • ArlForester

            Here’s a big steaming cup of it-was-a-joke for ya. I’ll throw in a little sense-o-humor too.

  • I’d like to see where Arlington and Manhatten fall with a bit more normalized data. Say, (average household income)/(average residence price).

    • ArlForester

      I want to see a per capita pizza joint comparison. Arlington has to be closing the gap.

      • wat

        I wish it were.

  • bob

    That much be a lot of GS14.

  • wat

    as someone who works in rosslyn, I certainly wish I were making that much.

    • Webster

      Then you could afford to move out of the city and to some fresh air!

      • AllenB

        And to ninety minute commute.

        • Webster

          You’ve obviously never driven from Loudoun to Arlington. But keep making stuff up, it just undercuts your credibility.

          • AllenB

            No, I have never driven from Loudoun to Arlington during rush hour. But my coworker, sitting one office down, does. And he wishes he could afford to live here and would gladly give up the commute if he could afford a house here for him, his wife and three kids.

            I’d hardly call that kind of testimony “making things up”. You certainly have an ax to grind with Arlington as a whole. That’s apparent. To be so bitter this early in the day must be terrible. Pity you.

          • Webster

            Does it take him 90 minutes?

          • doodly

            Maybe it feels like 90 minutes. Especially sitting in all that car exhaust. So much for fresh air.

          • AllenB

            From Lovettsville to here? Yes, between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes… can vary daily.

        • The commute is more like 60, and probably 40 if you drive it early enough. That said, I’d not want to do it. I have to periodically drive to Loudoun for some clients. Driving ANYWHERE in Northern VA is a nightmare at rush hour.

          Now, if I worked in Tysons, I’d say the drive from Loudoun to Tysons is just as easy if not easier than Arlington to Tysons.

          • Clarendude

            Driving in Tysons is a nightmare no matter where you came from.

          • Webster

            60 on the slowest days is what I have found. Google is flat out wrong.

            I work in DC, have a client in Loudoun (GW campus). 45 minutes from my office to their site. It can take me 45 minutes to get from Brookland to K street on a bus.

          • AllenB

            Sorry, Webster, but my info isn’t from Google. It’s from a real live person.

            School’s over. You’re dismissed.

          • Webster

            What does that mean?

          • CW

            It means that you just got what is known as a “truth bomb” dropped on you.

          • Webster

            Is that like #winning the internets?

          • JamesE

            I work near Tysons, I take the back roads via great falls st and avoid 7/123 completely. I will not take 66 west unless I leave after 9 am.

          • Webster

            Great Falls / Lewinsville is where the smart people drive. A great alternative to the gridlock, and pleasant aesthetically as well.

          • AllenB

            How very elitist of you. That is a very expensive area. So if you can’t live in a high priced area and have to drive, you are not smart but dumb.

            Keep digging that hole, Webster.

          • Webster

            Lol. I can not live in every high priced area. Just one at a time. But I still know enough to drive where traffic moves fast, and that’s one of the areas, and always has been, even before the toll road. That’s how I’m smart.

          • doodly

            “Arlington is where the smart people live. A great alternative to the gridlock, and pleasant aesthetically as well.”

            See how that works?

      • doodly

        Somebody’s jealous that they live in a boring suburb.

        Have fun at Applebee’s this Saturday night.

      • wat

        s—, if I made that much then I could afford to move INTO the city. Have you seen home/rent prices here?

  • LuvDusty

    I love that it takes me 15 min to get to work..whether I drive or take the Metro.

    I used to have to commute to work (same place) from Burke..took me about 1hr each way and had to take bus then metro.

    NEVER AGAIN. Oh and to add to that, my property value has not gone done in the past 4 years. My home is worth actually more than it was then.

  • PikerShorts

    I would love to not be commuting to Ashburn from Nauck. It averages 45 in the morning and 45-60 in the evening. People always say “oh you’re lucky to be going against traffic!”

    And then I laugh at them pinch their nipples for being silly.

    • From the Hill



Subscribe to our mailing list