States With the Most Big Spenders

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States with the Most Big Spenders

10. Washington
> 2012 spending per capita: $39,110
> Personal income per capita: $46,045 (13th highest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 31.7% (11th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.4% (16th lowest)

Washington state residents spent $39,110 per capita in 2012, versus $35,498 per person nationwide. Spending in Washington increased 4.7% from the year before, more than all but six other states. Like every other state with highest expenditures, Washington residents are relatively wealthy. A typical household in 2012 earned $57,573, among the higher household median incomes in the nation. State residents earned $46,045 per capita in 2012, also among the higher figures nationwide. Washington residents were far more likely to spend their money on services — housing, health, recreation, accommodations, and so forth — than they were on durable and nondurable goods. Housing costs such as mortgage and utility payments accounted for the bulk of service spending.

9. Vermont
> 2012 spending per capita: $39,443
> Personal income per capita: $44,545 (21st highest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 35.8% (6th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.0% (5th lowest)

Like a few states with the highest per capita expenditures, Vermont has a relatively low unemployment rate, at just 4.0% as of June. Residents also have exceptionally strong educational attainment rates. Nearly 36% of adults over 25 had attained at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, and 92% had at least a high school diploma, both among the best rates nationwide. A stable economy and educated residents partly explain the spending habits in the state, as reliable sources of income make higher consumption rates much more affordable.

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8. Maryland
> 2012 spending per capita: $40,980
> Personal income per capita: $53,816 (5th highest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 36.9% (4th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 6.2% (22nd highest)

Maryland residents had the highest median household income in the nation in 2012, at $71,122. This likely contributed to high levels of personal expenditure. And while consumption grew at more than 5% each year between 1997 and 2006, growth has been slow to recover since the recession. Maryland residents are among the nation’s best educated, with nearly 37% of adults having at least a bachelor’s degree. High incomes also contributed to more than 67% of consumption going towards services, an indication of a wealthier economy.

7. New Hampshire
> 2012 spending per capita: $41,621
> Personal income per capita: $49,129 (9th highest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 34.6% (8th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.3% (6th lowest)

Unlike other high-spending states, New Hampshire residents spent a relatively small share of income on services. New Hampshire has historically had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, reaching only 6.4% at the height of the recession. Low unemployment rates may have contributed to the state’s high expenditure levels as greater shares of the population had jobs. On average, New Hampshire residents spent 84.7% of their personal income in 2012, indicating that incomes for state residents are high enough to support their expenditure, while also affording them opportunities to save.

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6. Alaska
> 2012 spending per capita: $41,711
> Personal income per capita: $49,436 (8th highest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 28.0% (23rd highest)
> June unemployment rate: 6.8% (13th highest)

Alaskans are among the wealthiest Americans, with a typical household earning $67,712 in 2012, more than all but two other states. Residents also had exceptionally high rates of educational attainment, with 92% of residents having at least a high school diploma in 2012, the third-highest rate in the country. The primary explanation for Alaska’s wealth is its large oil industry. The sector’s productivity has been slowing in recent years, however, causing concerns over the state’s dependency on oil. Spending grew at an annualized rate of 5.6% between 1997 and 2012, among the larger increases in the nation. By the end of that period, however, spending growth had slowed somewhat, to 3.6%, lower than the national growth rate of 4.6% from 2011 to 2012.