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Los Alamos County makes wealthiest county list

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By Jennifer Garcia

Los Alamos County has gained national recognition for being one of the top 50 counties or municipalities with the highest per capita income.

The list, released by the Associated Press, ranked Los Alamos County number 49, with a per capita income of $55,109. Number one was Teton County, Wyo., with a per capita income of $132,728, while number 50 was Monmouth County, New Jersey, with a per capita income of $54,801.

There are a couple of different factors that contribute to the wealth of Los Alamos County, said Kevin Holsapple, Executive Director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.

The biggest factor for having such a high per capita income compared to the rest of the state is Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“A lot of economic drivers come from the lab and given the nature of what the lab does and with the people who are highly skilled and educated in technical fields, the lab pays salaries that you have to pay to get the right kind of people to do the work in those fields,” Holsapple said. “That would probably account for most of the jobs paying those high wages.”

He also said that as people retire, they sometimes have pensions that can also pay considerable income or provide considerable income to people who choose to retire here.

“They come from people who have had careers here and retire here and have high incomes,” Holsapple said.

As far as per capita income, he said the fact that there’s high compensation for high jobs, pulls up the compensation that people have to pay. “We have a low unemployment rate, compared to the county at large,” he said.

Holsapple said there are a lot of positive things that come along with having a high per capita income.

“The high income is something that comes with highly educated people, who are real interested in a lot of things in life. It makes for a population that’s energetic and very interested in the world. In my mind, it makes for interesting people, not because they’re making money, but they have a lot of education, they are more worldly, they’ve traveled a lot,” he said.