America's Richest (and Poorest) States
> Median household income: $71,122
> Population: 5,884,563 (19th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.8% (17th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 10.3% (3rd lowest)
Maryland was the only state in the country with a median household income to exceed $70,000 in both 2011 and 2012. Also, nearly 11% of households in Maryland earned $200,000 or more last year, the third-highest percentage in the nation and close to double the national rate of 5.9%. People in Maryland were more likely to be employed and to hold good jobs. Just 6.8% of the workforce was unemployed in 2012, compared to 8.1% nationwide. Conversely, 15.5% of the workforce, the highest percentage in the nation, were employed in professional, scientific and management occupations, which are generally high skill and high pay.
2. New Jersey
> Median household income: $69,667
> Population: 8,864,590 (11th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% (tied-5th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 10.8% (5th lowest)
The median household income in New Jersey was just shy of $70,000 in 2012. This was due in part to the large number of especially wealthy households. More than 11% of households had an income of at least $200,000 in 2012, a higher percentage than any other state except Connecticut, and nearly double the national rate. But not all residents were well off in 2012. The state’s unemployment rate for the year was 9.5%, among the highest in the nation. Also, the percentage of households that depended on food stamps rose from 8.0% in 2011 to 9.3% last year. This mirrored a nationwide trend: The number of American households on food stamps rose to from 13.0% to 13.6% between 2011 and 2012.
> Median household income: $67,712
> Population: 731,449 (4th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.0% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 10.1% (2nd lowest)
In spite of Alaska’s high median household income — and the nation’s second-lowest poverty rate — over 20% of the population did not have health insurance last year, more than all but two other states. This could be due in part to the state’s high volume of seasonal employees, who are much less likely to have health insurance. Alaska’s oil production also bolsters residents’ income, with most collecting dividend payments from the state’s reinvested oil savings.
> Median household income: $67,276
> Population: 3,590,347 (22nd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.4% (tied-14th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 10.7% (4th lowest)
Connecticut’s median household income fell considerably from 2008, when a typical family in the state took in $73,075 annually. This mirrored broader trends in the rest of the U.S., as nationwide median household income fell from over $55,000 in 2008 to $51,371 in 2012. Still, 11.5% of the state’s households earned at least $200,000 in 2012, the most in the U.S. Connecticut also remains one of the states with the worst income inequality in the nation, ahead of only New York.
> Median household income: $66,259
> Population: 1,392,313 (11th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.8% (12th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.6% (8th lowest)
Over 16% of people in Hawaii worked in arts and entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services last year, the second highest percentage in the country. This reflects the state’s strong retirement and tourism economy. The unemployment rate in Hawaii declined only slightly in 2012 from the year before, but remained well below the U.S. rate, at just 5.8%. Over that time, Hawaii was also one of a handful of states to see a meaningful increase in income. Median household income rose by more than $3,000, to $66,259.
> Median household income: $65,339
> Population: 6,646,144 (14th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.7% (16th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.9% (11th lowest)
Massachusetts was one of just four states with a significant increase in median household income between 2011 and 2012. Last year, median household income rose to $65,339, from $64,311 the year before. The many colleges and universities in the Boston area are a major source of high-paying jobs in the state. Nearly 28% of working residents in Massachusetts were employed in education, health care or social assistance, the most in the nation. Additionally, just 3.9% of the state’s population lacked health insurance last year, lowest of all 50 states and well below the 14.8% figure nationwide. This may be partly because of the state’s own health care reform measures, passed in 2006. These reforms are often seen as a model for the federal government’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.
7. New Hampshire
> Median household income: $63,280
> Population: 1,320,718 (9th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.5% (8th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 10.0% (the lowest)
In addition to being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, New Hampshire also had the lowest poverty rate last year. Just 10% of people in the state had an income that placed them below the poverty line, versus nearly 16% nationwide. Similarly, just 2.7% of households earned less than $10,000 in 2012 — again the lowest rate in the nation and nearly half the national rate of 5%. Also demonstrating how well residents in the state are doing, just 8.3% of households received food stamps in 2012, the lowest percentage in the nation, while the state had an unemployment rate of only 5.5%.
> Median household income: $61,741
> Population: 8,185,867 (12th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.9% (13th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.7% (9th lowest)
Median household income in Virginia declined from over $65,000 in 2008 to an estimated $61,741 last year. The unemployment rate improved from 6.4% in 2011 to 5.9% last year. Nearly 10% of Virginian households earned at least $200,000 in 2012, one of the highest rates nationally. One reason for these high incomes may be the concentration of high-skilled jobs in professional, scientific and management fields, which can pay well. Individuals in occupations within these groups accounted for 15% of Virginia’s workforce, more than any state except Maryland.
> Median household income: $58,906
> Population: 5,379,139 (21st highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.6% (9th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.4% (7th lowest)
Minnesota had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country last year, at 5.6%, compared to a national rate of 8.9%. Most of the states with high median household incomes also had smaller populations of impoverished residents, and Minnesota was no exception. The state’s poverty rate was among the lowest in the nation, at 11.4%. Further, just 3.3% of Minnesota households earned an income of less than $10,000 in 2012, compared to a national rate of 5.0%.
> Median household income: $58,415
> Population: 917,092 (6th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (tied-23rd lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 12.0% (12th lowest)
Delaware’s median household income declined from more than $62,000 in 2008 to $58,415 last year — still well above the national median. One reason for this may be the relatively large number of workers in finance, insurance and real estate. These jobs, which tend to pay well, accounted for almost 10% of employment in the state. Delaware also had a high percentage of residents with health insurance, with only 8.8% lacking coverage.