May 18, 2012 / 2:39 AM / 6 years ago

California area tops for weirdos, paychecks

(Reuters) - The old joke that California’s Bay Area is just like a bowl of granola because it is full of flakes and nuts may have to be tweaked slightly.

A man stands on a pier near the fog-shrouded Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California December 30, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A report released on Thursday found that residents of the major cities ringing the San Francisco Bay are tops when it comes to weirdness - and paychecks.

The metropolitan area that includes San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont has the highest per capita income in the United States, at $61,348, according to the report from the group CEOS for Cities, which analyzed 2010 Census data. The area including the Silicon Valley anchors San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara comes in second at $58,947.

CEO for Cities, a network of urban leaders, used a constellation of measures to benchmark the economic and civic performance of major metropolitan areas. Its gauges of cities’ connectedness, innovation and talent, and distinctiveness included ratios of ethnic restaurants to fast food ones, voting rates, and a “weirdness index,” which measured how much consumer behaviors in an area deviated from the national average.

The group found that while “no large metropolitan area’s consumption patterns exactly mirrored those of the nation as a whole,” consumer behaviors in the San Jose area varied the most from the national norms for sports, fitness, hobbies and aspects of home life. The San Francisco area ranked second.

The two areas also reigned in the “Culture/HDTV ratio,” meaning they had the highest ratios of attendance at cultural events and number of households with high-definition television.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they had the largest proportion of people employed as “creative professionals,” namely mathematicians, scientists, artists, engineers, architects and designers, and the largest amounts of venture capital raised per 1,000 population in 2011.

The San Jose area also has the highest percentage of residents 25 years and older who have completed a four-year college degree and were born outside the United States.

In comparison, California’s sprawling neighbor to the south, Los Angeles, did not rank number one for any of the 29 measures, which also included most vehicle miles traveled and highest levels of greenhouse gases.

The survey found that altogether seven metropolitan regions had per capita income greater than $50,000, including Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, Seattle, and Hartford, Connecticut.

Those living in the shadow of the Empire State building were number one for non-poor workers who commute via public transportation in 2010 and for having the most walkable city in 2011. The New York City area also outstripped other places for the variety of ethnic restaurants, the rate of college degree attainment, and sheer population.

Under a more finely tuned measure of per capita income, which narrowed in on urban cores and used three years of data from the Census’s American Community Survey, New York took the highest spot.

With that measure, income was $72,953 per person in New York. Chicago, where those living in the heart of the city have an income of $59,785 per capita, ranked second, and San Francisco ranked third with $52,621.

Despite being the seat of U.S. political power, the Washington, D.C., area took the highest spot in only one category: the highest percentage of people aged 25 to 34 who hold at least a four-year college degree.

Still, the capital city also came in last, number 51, for the percentage of population living in poverty.

Reporting By Lisa Lambert; Editing by Leslie Adler

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