Aren’t we supposed to feel sorry for all of those government employees who make so little money, and are sacrificing their own financial security to serve us? Haven’t we always heard the jokes about the government workers in the cheap suits, who have to live in the slums, but who serve a noble calling?
I live in Fairfax County. It’s a suburb of Washington DC. The main industry here is government.
Average earnings for full time, year-round, male workers in Fairfax County in 2008 was over $100,000! Total median earnings for all workers (including part time and seasonal, presumably) was over $70,000.
In 2008, the average assessed value of detached single family homes was $617,541. The average for all residential properties in Fairfax County was $459,228, but it varies widely by area, from $332,879 in Lorton, to $1,017,799 in Great Falls.
Compared to the rest of the country, we’ve had a very small correction in housing prices, but these prices are still notably lower than they were a few years ago. I think the average drop for Fairfax County in 2008 was 3.38%.
Where is all the money coming from? We do have a strong technology industry here, but much of it serves the government. I suspect that a lot of the money is coming from outsourced government work, but it’s hard to get good data on that. The money for that government work comes from taxes. I’ve been told that government and military retirees get pensions and retire early. Many of them continue to work as consultants (usually indirectly working for the government), effectively bringing in two salaries, neither of which is pay for productive activity (at the macro-economic level). Northern Virginia is an example of a massive redistribution of wealth.
Still, Fairfax County is a nice place to live. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I like it here. I just hate the constant reminder of the size of the federal government.
(source: Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs.)