Economy

America's Richest (and Poorest) States

31. Georgia
> Median household income: $47,209
> Population: 9,919,945 (8th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.0% (9th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 19.2% (6th highest)

Nearly 7% of households in Georgia earned less than $10,000 in 2012, tied with Louisiana for the fourth-highest percentage in the country. Nearly one in five people in the state, about 1.9 million, lived below the poverty line — the sixth-worst level of poverty in the country. Although it improved slightly faster than the country as a whole between 2011 and 2012, the unemployment rate remained above the national rate at 9%. Nearly 20% of Georgians were without health care insurance last year, the sixth-highest rate in the country. However, record numbers of people are enrolling in Medicaid. Governor Nathan Deal said the state will choose to opt-out of the expanded Medicaid provision in the Affordable Care Act.

32. Indiana
> Median household income: $46,974
> Population: 6,537,334 (16th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.4% (tied-14th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.6% (24th highest)

About one in five of Indiana workers are employed in manufacturing, a greater proportion than in any other state. In some regions, like Plymouth, the manufacturing industry is not only dominant, but flourishing. The unemployment rate in the state was only slightly higher than the national rate last year, and household incomes have declined at roughly the same pace as the median household income for the entire country since 2008.

33. Michigan
> Median household income: $46,859
> Population: 9,883,360 (9th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.1% (tied-7th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 17.4% (14th highest)

Michigan’s economy contracted by 9% in 2009, one of the worst contractions that year. By 2012 the state’s economy grew by 2.2%, still lower than the country’s growth that year. Similarly, median household incomes remained about $4,700 below 2008 levels — more than the decline nationwide. The state’s unemployment rate, though also improved, was among the worst in the nation at 9.1% in 2012. Further, nearly 18% of households in Michigan received food stamps in 2012, more than all but three other states, and up from just 12.2% in 2008. State lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would make community service mandatory for all food stamp recipients.

Also Read: America’s Richest (and Poorest) States

34. Ohio
> Median household income: $46,829
> Population: 11,544,225 (7th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.2% (25th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 16.3% (20th highest)

More than 15% of Ohio workers were employed in the manufacturing sector in 2012, higher than all but three other states, which include neighboring Michigan. As a result of the heavy concentration in the sector, recent improvements in manufacturing activity have been beneficial for Ohio job-seekers. In 2012, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% from 8.6% the year before. This was one of the largest declines in the country. Still, the state has yet to recover many of the jobs lost during the recession, especially in construction; the sector employed just 5.2% of Ohio workers last year, less than nearly all other states in the nation.

35. Maine
> Median household income: $46,709
> Population: 1,329,192 (10th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.3% (tied-23th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 14.7% (tied-24th lowest)

Maine’s poverty rate was lower than the national rate in 2012, as was the proportion of households that earned under $10,000 that year. Despite this, nearly 18% of Maine households relied on food stamp benefits, tied with Michigan for the fourth most in the country. Governor Paul LePage expressed some concern over the rising number of falsified food stamp applications, which cost the state $700,000 a year. Nearly 14% of jobs in Maine are in the retail sector, compared to 11.6% nationally. The sector typically includes low-paying, low-skilled jobs.

36. Idaho
> Median household income: $45,489
> Population: 1,595,728 (12th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (tied-23rd lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.9% (tied-22nd highest)

Idaho’s median household income fell by more than $5,000 between 2008 and 2012, well above the national decline. The state was among the hardest hit by the housing crisis, which also contributed to the decline in income. While the unemployment rate fell from 8.3% in 2011 to 7.1% in 2012, total employment has yet to return to its pre-recession levels. Similarly, construction employment — which accounted for 7.5% of the state’s workforce in 2012, more than in all but a handful of states — has also yet to recover from the downturn in the state’s housing market. Idaho also had fewer high-income households than all but several other states in 2012, with just 2.8% earning at least $200,000 that year.

37. Missouri
> Median household income: $45,321
> Population: 6,021,988 (18th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.9% (tied-19th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 16.2% (21st highest)

The unemployment rate in Missouri fell by 1.5 percentage points between 2011 and 2012, the third-greatest decline in the nation, behind only Florida and Nevada. Despite this encouraging statistic, median household income dropped about $4,500 between 2008 and 2012, slightly above the nation’s decline. The percentage of households earning less than $10,000 in 2012 was also close to the national rate. Meanwhile, 3.7% of families earned more than $200,000 in 2012, well below the national figure of 5.9%.

38. North Carolina
> Median household income: $45,150
> Population: 9,752,073 (10th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% (tied-4th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 18.0% (10th highest)

North Carolina’s unemployment rate of 9.5% was one of the nation’s highest in 2012. In addition, the state also had one of the nation’s worst poverty rates, with 18% of the population living below the poverty line. Last year, according to the News & Observer, a state lawmaker stated that no one in North Carolina lived in extreme poverty, claiming “poverty [means] you’re out there living on a dollar and half a day. I don’t think we have anybody in North Carolina doing that.” These comments drew substantial criticism from groups that work to fight poverty. According to the census, 6% of households lived on income of less than $10,000 last year. This was one of the highest rates in the country.

39. Montana
> Median household income: $45,076
> Population: 1,005,141 (7th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.0% (14th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.5% (25th highest)

Montana’s poverty rate of 15.5% in 2012 was similar to the national rate. Also, just 3.8% of its households made less than $10,000 that year — versus 5% nationwide. Yet, the state’s median household income was more than $6,000 below lower than the U.S. median income in 2012. Several industries that actually pay fairly well were highly concentrated in the state. Employment in agriculture and mining accounted for 7.2% of the workforce, more than all but three states, while construction accounted for 8.1% of jobs, also among the highest rates in the nation. However, there were few exceptionally high-earning households in Montana. Just 3.4% of households made over $200,000 in 2012, among the lowest percentages in the nation.

40. Florida
> Median household income: $45,040
> Population: 19,317,568 (4th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.6% (12th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 17.1% (17th highest)

Florida’s median household income fell by more than $5,000 between 2008 and 2012. The state was ranked among the worst for income inequality in the nation. While it had one of the country’s largest proportions of workers employed in high-paying professional, scientific and management positions, as well as in finance and insurance, it also had the highest concentration of jobs in generally low-paying retail and tourism sectors. Still, the state’s unemployment rate fell substantially in 2012, from 10.3% in 2011 to 8.6% in 2012, and employment has been steadily rising, albeit slowly.