Washington: A World Apart

The Super Zip Codes: The Washington Post analyzed census data to find Zip codes where people rank highest on a combination of income and education.  They are Super Zips.

The following map highlights in yellow the nation’s Super Zips — those ranking highest on income and college education. The largest collection of Super Zips is around Washington, D.C.

“I’ve come a long way,” said Farley, 46, pondering her path from a refugee camp to one of the country’s most affluent and educated Zip codes.  “This is a wonderful area.   I’m not sure all the people who live here recognize that.   If all you’ve ever known is an upper-middle-class life, it’s hard to see how nice we have it.”

Farley resides in Clarksville, Howard County, Maryland, a bedroom community midway between Washington and Baltimore where the median household income tops $181,000, more than triple the national average.

An astonishing 98 percent of Clarksville’s River Hill High School’s graduates head to college.  Volvos, Mercedes and BMW’s are scattered throughout the student parking lot.  Even pets get in on the refined tastes of their owners; in a small shopping center near the school, a shop specializing in organic dog food is next door to the organic grocery store.

The ranks, ranging from 0 to 99, represent the average of each Zip’s percentile rankings for median household income and for the share of adults with college degrees.  Super Zips rank 95 or higher.  This approach is adapted from one used by author Charles Murray.


Clarksville sits in one of the nation’s “Super Zips” — a term coined by American Enterprise Institute scholar and author Charles Murray to describe the country’s most prosperous, highly educated demographic clusters.  On average, they have a median household income of $120,000, and 7 in 10 adults have college degrees.

Although these areas would be considered rare in much of the country, they’re fairly ordinary by Washington standards.

A Washington Post analysis of the latest census data shows that more than a third of Zip codes in the D.C. metro area rank in the top 5 percent nationally for income and education.  But what makes the region truly unusual is that so many of the high-end Zip codes are contiguous.  They form a vast land mass that bounds across 717 square miles.  It stretches 60 miles from its northern tip in Woodstock, Howard County, Md., to the southern end in Fairfax Station, and runs 30 miles wide from Haymarket in Prince William County to the heart of the District up to Rock Creek Parkway.

One in four households in the region are in a Super Zip, according to the Post analysis.  Since the 2000 Census on which Murray based his analysis, Washington’s Super Zips have grown to encompass 100,000 more residents.  Only the New York City area has more Super Zips, but they are a much smaller share of the total of that region’s Zip codes and are more scattered.

Source Article and Interactive Map:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/2013/11/09/washington-a-world-apart/