Washington, D.C. area now the richest in the nation

Analysts at Bloomberg News examined new Census data and found that the area surrounding the nation's capital is now the richest in the nation:

Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation's greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.

The U.S. capital has swapped top spots with Silicon Valley, according to recent Census Bureau figures, with the typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year. The national median income for 2010 was $50,046.

Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009, according to Bloomberg News calculations of Commerce Department data. There were 170,467 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June.

A survey in March of federal government job openings in the area found hundreds of well-paying gigs on offer. Highlights from those listing include an offer for up to $115,000 a year to update the Facebook page and manage new media projects for the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and a deputy speechwriter gig for Office Of Personnel Management Director John Berry that paid up to $81,204 annually.

Of course, federal pay isn't the only factor contributing to Washington's new status. The proliferation of high-priced lobbyists, contractors and consultants, combined with one of the most stable (and pricey) real estate markets in the country, means that the D.C. region is one expensive place.