States with the Fewest Big Spenders
10. South Carolina
> 2012 spending per capita: $30,728
> Personal income per capita: $35,056 (3rd lowest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 25.1% (12th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.7% (21st lowest)
South Carolina residents spent a total of $30,728 per capita in 2012, versus a national average of $35,498. Just one in four adults aged 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree as of 2012, among the lower rates nationwide. While this may lead to lower wages in the state, the unemployment rate has improved substantially in recent years. In June, 5.7% of South Carolina’s workforce was unemployed, lower than the national rate for the first time since before 2006. Still, nearly 10% of households earned less than $10,000 in 2012, among the worst rates in the country. Low incomes likely explain the states low spending. Residents’ spending habits may still be affecting their ability to save money, as nearly 88% of income generated in the state was spent in 2012. By contrast, Americans nationwide spent just over 81% of their income on average.
9. West Virginia
> 2012 spending per capita: $30,642
> Personal income per capita: $35,082 (4th lowest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 18.6% (the lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.9% (24th lowest)
West Virginia residents spent more than 87% of their income in 2012, the 10th-highest rate in the country. West Virginia had the smallest percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree in the country in 2012, which may have kept wages low. Only 1.9% of state households had incomes in excess of $200,000, the lowest rate in the country. Additionally, more than one in 10 households lived on less than $10,000 in 2012, the second-lowest rate nationwide, while 18% of West Virginia residents had lived below the poverty line at some point that year. Looking at spending patterns, health care expenditure accounted for nearly a fifth of total spending, one of the lower rates in the country.
> 2012 spending per capita: $30,621
> Personal income per capita: $35,643 (7th lowest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 21.8% (4th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 7.4% (6th highest)
Nearly a third of Kentucky’s $30,621 per capita expenditure was allocated to housing and utilities in 2012, the fourth-highest proportion in the country. Like other low-spending states, Kentucky residents have comparatively lower rates of educational attainment, likely driving down incomes. In 2012, only 21.8% of adult residents had at least a bachelor’s degree, the fourth-lowest rate in the country. Residents spent nearly 86% of their income in 2012, giving Kentucky one of the lower savings rates in the U.S.
> 2012 spending per capita: $30,190
> Personal income per capita: $34,481 (2nd lowest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 25.5% (14th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.5% (8th lowest)
Idaho’s unemployment rate weathered the recession remarkably well, remaining at least one percentage point below the national rate over the last 10 years. Personal incomes in the state, however, have been relatively low. In 2012, Idaho residents earned less, on average than Americans in all but one other state. This may be due to Idaho’s labor force, which is concentrated in trade, transportation, and utilities, sectors that typically offer low-wage jobs. While earnings were low, residents spent nearly 88% of what they made in 2012. Idaho residents spent more on gasoline than all but four other states, likely due to the size of the state’s transportation sector.
> 2012 spending per capita: $30,181
> Personal income per capita: $35,430 (5th lowest)
> Pct. bachelor’s degree: 30.7% (15th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.9% (4th lowest)
Utah residents were among the lowest earners in 2012, with a personal income per capita of just $35,430. This didn’t prevent them from spending more than 85% of their income in 2012, among the highest figures in the country. Income per capita is likely dragged down by Utah’s relatively young population, and larger families. In fact, households in the state were actually relatively well-off. A typical household brought in $57,049 in income as of 2012, among the higher median household incomes in the nation.