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Median Income Plunges in Wilton

Wilton experienced the third largest drop in median family income of 23 Fairfield County towns in 2010, as local and state officials say the town has been hit hard by the national economic downturn.

Although Wilton retained its ranking in Fairfield County as fourth highest in median income, that amount dropped by $11,400.

Only Redding, which dropped from $131,477 in 2009 to $119,788 in 2010, and Easton, which dipped from $159,701 to $148,271, had bigger declines in Fairfield County than Wilton.

Wilton's median household income of just less than $171,000 in 2010 dropped from nearly $182,000 in 2009, said Alissa DeJonge, director of research for the Connecticut Economic Resource Center Inc. in Rocky Hill. The three richest towns — Darien at $185,619, New Canaan at $180,434 and Weston at $180,321 — topped Wilton in median income in 2010. The figures were compiled by the center's annual DataFinder report.

"Every town in Fairfield County experienced a decline in median income except for Westport and Greenwich, which both increased by about $4,000," said DeJonge. "But the Wilton drop-off is one of the biggest."

DeJonge said reasons for the decline include the slow national economy and high unemployment rate. "Even in affluent places like Wilton the median income declined because companies have downsized and people have taken positions that pay less," she said. "Executives who stayed with their companies did not receive the large bonuses they have in the past."

Wilton Board of Finance Chairman Warren Serenbetz said the drop in Wilton is troublesome and reflects "what I'm hearing from people all the time. There's a lot more economic stress here than we think."

The family median income has declined throughout Fairfield County, dropping from $82,184 in 2009 to $77,620 in 2010. Officials in several towns said that despite the declines, affluent Fairfield County is far better off than other parts of the state. The median-income figure for the state is $65,686.

"I really don't know how much it means. All of our towns are fortunate enough that many of our residents work in the financial industry and haven't been as hard hit by the recession as in the larger towns and cities," said New Canaan First Selectman Jeb Walker.

Dustin Anderson, executive assistant to the first selectman in Greenwich, said his town's increase in median income is "not so much anything the town is doing, as it is the people who are choosing to live here."

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