Survey of median household income puts Alford on top in county

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To get to the top of a new U.S. Census Bureau list for Berkshire County, the town of Alford didn't rely on the alphabet this time.

The town of 486 residents clocks in with the highest median household income for Berkshire County — $105,625 — in the bureau's latest American Community Survey, 2013-2017, released in December.

The term "median" refers to a figure in the middle of a data set. In this case, it means in the census estimates, there are an equal number of annual household incomes above and below $105,625 in Alford.

The fact that Alford came out on top doesn't surprise Thomas Matuszko, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

"They've traditionally had high income," he said of the community, which is the ninth smallest of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts and, like many communities in South County, is home to many part-time residents.

Though Alford's figure of $105,625 tops other area municipalities by a country mile (or as far as $7,708 would get you), the town finishes well behind the bureau's estimate of median household income in Eastern Massachusetts communities.

Once again, the federal government's demographic tally for Massachusetts shows a sharp east-west money split. While the figure for Norfolk County was $95,668 (25th highest in the U.S.), the income figure for Berkshire County was $55,190.

The median household income in 22 of Berkshire County's 32 cities and towns was lower than the state's figure of $74,167.

The state community with the highest estimated median household income is Dover, at $204,018. The town with the lowest is Monroe, at the northeast edge of Berkshire County, with a median household income of $31,458.

North Adams was computed to have the lowest such figure in Berkshire County, with a median household income of $38,774 — a little more than half of the state median. That put it close to other economically distressed communities like Springfield ($37,118), Holyoke ($37,954), and Fall River ($39,328).

Large communities in Berkshire County showed somewhat higher incomes, including Pittsfield ($46,871), Adams ($49,777) and Great Barrington ($56,124), but those also brought up the rear in the survey.

After Alford, the three Berkshire communities with highest median household income were Richmond ($97,917), Washington ($86,389) and Tyringham ($86,250).

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.


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