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Munster, Winfield and the Duneland communities along the Lake Michigan shoreline tend to be thought of as some of the wealthiest towns in Northwest Indiana. 

But St. John is actually the richest town with a population below 25,000 in the Region — and in the state of Indiana, according to a new report.

24/7 Wall Street, a financial news and opinion website known for lists like "best places to live" and "worst companies to work for," named the richest town in every state with a population between 1,000 and 25,000. The very tiny Winnetka on the Lake Michigan shore north of Chicago, for instance, was recognized as the richest in Illinois, with a median household income of $211,773.

The national media company ranked St. John as the richest in Indiana, with a median income of $95,777. That's nearly double the statewide median household income of $49,255.

24/7 Wall Street chalks it up to the St. John's high education level.

"One reason for the high area incomes is the high level of education among town residents," 24/7 Wall Street said. "An estimated 97.1 percent of St. John adults have graduated high school, the largest share in Indiana. Also, 37.6 percent of St. John adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, far more than the 24 percent statewide share. Nationwide, the typical high school graduate earns $8,000 more than the typical worker who did not finish high school, and college graduates earn $20,000 more."

The town of more than 16,000 residents, arguably best known for the massive Lake Central High School and the Shrine of Christ's Passion tourist attraction, is part of the Tri-Town area with Schererville and Dyer. It's population has nearly doubled since 2000, making it the fastest-growing community in Northwest Indiana, according to U.S. Census figures. 

24/7 Wall Street notes St. John's poverty rate is only 2.9 percent. By contrast, the poverty rate is 13.5 percent nationally and 15.2 percent in Indiana.

"Although our town of St. John shares many of the same challenges that other communities do, we take great pride in our community and have employees that are the best in the business," Town Councilman Mark Barenie said.

It isn't the first time St. John has won national recognition. CNN named the town the one of the 100 best places to live in the United States in 2009.

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.