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December 25. 2013 10:40PM

Manchester-Nashua area ‘9th richest’ on list

The Manchester and Nashua metropolitan area is the ninth-richest in the country, with a median household income of $69,089, according to the number-crunchers at the Wall Street Journal website marketwatch.com.

Market Watch released its annual list of “richest cities” on Christmas Eve, with Manchester-Nashua just ahead of Napa, Calif., and in the same company as Honolulu (8th) and Anchorage (7th).

The top five cities and their median household incomes in 2012 were San Jose, $90,737; Washington, D.C., $88,233; Bridgeport, Conn., $79,841; San Francisco, $74,992; and Boston, $71,738.

The authors of the report observed that the low poverty rate of 9.8 percent in the Manchester-Nashua area, compared to 16 percent nationally, also helped boost its ranking.

“While most of the nation’s richest cities have a high proportion of exceptionally wealthy households, the Manchester area is notable because so few households are poor,” they wrote. “Just 2.1 percent of all households made less than $10,000 last year, among the lowest percentage in the nation.”

The rankings are based on household income and poverty rates from the U.S. Census Bureau and unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for each “standard metropolitan statistical area” (SMSA).

The Manchester-Nashua SMSA includes all of Hillsborough County. Statistics attributed to Manchester in the report actually reflect the median for a county that includes some of the wealthiest communities in the state, such as Bedford and Hollis.

The report’s authors also cite the region’s well-educated population, with more than 37 percent of adult residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2012, a statistic that tops 90 percent of the metro areas nationwide.

No ranking of New Hampshire would be complete without reference to the state’s lack of broad-based taxes. New Hampshire tax policies received favorable grades for supporting businesses.

“The WSJ report certainly helps raise the profile of New Hampshire and in this case, offers data to support what we already know: Southern New Hampshire is an attractive place to live and do business because of our highly educated workforce, as well as our business friendliness,” said Lorna Colquhoun, communications and legislative director with the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development.

“These are important considerations to companies outside of the state looking to expand or relocate, and to the businesses already here that are planning on growing,” she said.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said the ranking does not reflect his experience, particularly given the high number of Manchester children on reduced-cost or free lunch in the city’s public schools.

“I have to see where they get their numbers,” he said,

Median household income within Manchester city limits, according to the census, was $54,320 — well below the median for Hillsborough County used in the WSJ report.

Median income in Nashua, at $65,671, is closer to the county-wide figure. Median household income in Hollis was $115,848; and in Bedford it was $105,299.dsolomon@unionleader.com