Discover the Top 5 Richest Counties in Pennsylvania

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Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Published: January 4, 2024

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A prominent state in the early days of the American colonies and the birth of the United States, Pennsylvania is a fascinating state with a rich history. Its role in American independence as well as the economic growth of the country means that many of the counties have long histories. With such established areas, it’s not surprising that the local economies have had chances to grow and flourish. Whether it’s agriculture, business, or other industries, these Pennsylvania counties are some of the richest in the state.

There are a lot of metrics that you could use to determine the richest counties in any state, including median home price, household income, investment income, and even personal income. For our purposes, we’ll consider the per capita annual personal income of residents in all Pennsylvania counties, which is reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Personal income includes any money received by the household. This includes salaries and wages, as well as reported investment income.

1. Chester County

Early morning landscape view of a golf course in the rolling hills of Chester County, PA.  Farm in the distance

Chester County is home to suburban and rural areas.

Located in the Delaware Valley, Chester County, Pennsylvania is one of the richest counties in the state. The per capita personal income is over $100,000 per year. Just over 535,000 people live in Chester County, which is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area. It is also home to the Philadelphia Main Line, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. Other parts of Chester County include rural areas.

This county is also notable among all of the counties in the United States. While it ranks #1 in Pennsylvania, it also ranks in the top 40 across the nation for income. Along with Bucks County and the city of Philadelphia, Chester County traces its origins to the founding by William Penn in the late 17th century. Since then, the area has been developed by wealthy Philadelphia families. Industry in the county was often connected to the railroad.

2. Montgomery County

The National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge is a monument dedicated to George Washington and the United States Continental Army

The National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge is a monument dedicated to George Washington and the United States Continental Army.

Another county in the Phildelpha-Camden-Wilmington area is Montgomery County. The annual personal income in this area is just over $93,000. It is northeast of Chester County and shares a border. It was originally part of Philadelphia County but became its own area in the 1780s. One notable site within Montgomery County is the Valley Forge National Historical Park. This 3,500-acre park is the site of the Continental Army’s winter camp during 1777-1778. You can tour the encampment to learn more about the history of this location.

There are around 860,000 residents in Montgomery County. It is the third-largest county in the state of Pennsylvania. One of the reasons why Montgomery County, also known as Montco, is so affluent is the high employment rate within the county. Many residents commute to nearby Philadelphia but even areas within Montco, such as King of Prussia, Blue Bell, and Lansdale, have booming industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Montgomery is 2.7%, a full percentage lower than the national average of 3.7%.

3. Bucks County

Winter view of the Delaware River connecting Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Hunterdon County, New Jersey in Washington Crossing

George Washington’s historic crossing of the Delaware River was from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey.

Historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania is one of the oldest counties in the state in addition to being one of the wealthiest. It was founded in 1862 by William Penn, who named it after Buckinghamshire in his native England. The per capita personal income of its residents is around $86,770 annually. Bucks County is the northernmost part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area. The southern part of the county is also close to Trenton, New Jersey. Northern parts of the county are included in the Allentown, Pennsylvania region.

Much of the county is residential. It can trace its growth to the addition of housing developments in the 1950s and again in the 1970s. With more residents came more businesses and shopping as well. Today, around 645,000 people live in Bucks County. Due to its proximity to many other large metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia, Trenton, and Allentown, many residents live in Bucks County and commute to one of these cities for work.

4. Delaware County

Ridley Creek waterfall at Ridley Creek State Park

Ridley Creek State Park is a great place for hiking, fishing, and biking in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

In 1789, a small part of Chester County was partitioned off to form Delaware County. This area is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area. The annual personal income of Delaware County residents is $78,228. Named for the Delaware River, Delaware County is part of the border between Pennsylvania and Delaware and is one of the smallest counties by area in the state. Today, around 574,000 people live in Delaware County.

5. Allegheny County

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA skyline from the hills.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the county seat of Allegheny County.

One of the most populated counties in the state is Allegheny County. It has roughly 1.2 million residents. Pittsburgh is the largest city and the county seat of Allegheny County. The area has been the site of settlements of Native American tribes, English settlers, French settlers, and many others who disputed the land. It was even claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia as the state borders were established.

Much of the growth of Allegheny County was tied to the Industrial Revolution. As Pittsburgh became more important to the steel industry, Allegheny County also grew. Today, the majority of the county’s residents work in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.

Summary of Top Richest Counties in Pennsylvania

NumberCountyAnnual Personal Income

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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