San Ramon topped a recent list of the wealthiest cities in America, but Danville didn't make the cut -- not because it's less wealthy, but because it's too small to count.
Financial advice website Nerdwallet put together a list of the top 500 cities in the country, based on population. As of 2013, the U.S. Census put San Ramon's population at 81,323, putting it at No. 420 in population; Danville had a population of 42,457 and was No. 967 on the list.
Nerdwallet looked at cities that had the highest percentage in the nation of households bringing in $100,000 or more a year. That put San Ramon on top, at 63.5 percent. Census figures show 25 percent of San Ramon households brought in $200,000 or more, 16.4 percent that brought in $150,000 to $199,999 and 22.1 percent that brought in $100,000 to $149,999.
But Danville -- based on 2011 figures, the latest available for the town -- was a close second, with 63.2 percent of households bringing in $100,000 or more. Danville had more high-income households -- 28.2 percent that brought in $200,000 or more. It had fewer households that took in $150,000 to $199,999 -- 15.4 percent -- but more households that brought in $100,000 to $149,999. Altogether, that put Danville slightly lower, using those figures.
By comparison, Nerdwallet placed Pleasanton, with a population of 72,296, at third in the nation in highest-earning households, with 59.8 percent earning $100,000 or more, with 22.3 percent earning $200,000 or more, 14.7 making $150,000 to $199,999 and 22.8 percent making $100,000 to 149,999.
A case could be made that household earnings is a slanted way of measuring numbers; some families in San Ramon, particularly in Dougherty Valley, have two or more generations earning wages.
Looking at the census numbers for median income put Danville on top at $133,888. San Ramon also scored high at $121,756 per household and Pleasanton at $120,437 per household.
Danville also came out on top for average home prices, at $917,500. Pleasanton's average was $767,900, and using home prices as an indicator put San Ramon third of the three, at $739,700.
So, which of the measures should be used to determine the wealth of a city? All three, according to Tracey Grose, vice president at the Bay Area Economic Institute.
"I would say they all are equally valid. The economy is as complex base, and you can only explain it by looking through the economic prism, if you will," Grose said. "You can portray a balance by looking at all three."
Grose said there's a fourth indicator, the gini coefficient. That, she said, represents the distance between the highest income earners in an area and the lowest earners.
But, she said, the coefficient may not work to see which of the three cities is wealthiest, because it looks at a broader picture and can be "inconclusive" when narrowed to to a specific city or town.