Special Report

America's Richest (and Poorest) States

The Richest States in America

10. California
> Median household income: $60,190
> Population: 38,332,521 (the largest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.9% (4th highest)
> Pct. Below poverty line: 16.8% (16th highest)

A typical California household earned more than $60,000 last year, higher than the national median of $52,250. While California incomes have yet to return to 2009 levels, they have — just as nationwide income levels have — risen from 2012 levels. Although the state has some of the wealthiest residents nationwide, nearly 17% lived in poverty last year, the only rich state with a poverty rate above the national rate of 15.8%. The disparity is likely due to severe income inequality among the state’s more than 38 million residents. California’s Gini coefficient was higher than that of all but three other states last year. The state’s unemployment rate of 8.9% last year, despite declining from the year before, remained among the highest nationwide.

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9. Minnesota
> Median household income: $60,702
> Population: 5,420,380 (21st largest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.1% (9th lowest)
> Pct. Below poverty line: 11.2% (7th lowest)

While Minnesota is the ninth-richest state in the U.S., just 4.9% of households earned more than $200,000 annually, roughly in line with the percentage nationally. Minnesota’s income distristribution was less skewed towards the wealthy than that of most states. Its Gini coefficient was lower than that of 39 other states last year. The percentage of residents without health care was 8.2% last year and also among the lowest. However, the state’s insurance exchange, set up under the Affordable Care Act, has been rife with problems, including software glitches during the exchange’s rollout and the recent withdrawal of its most popular, and lowest-cost, insurers.

8. Virginia
> Median household income: $62,666
> Population: 8,260,405 (12th largest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.5% (13 lowest)
> Pct. Below poverty line: 11.7% (9th lowest)

Nearly 8% of Virginia households earned more than $200,000 last year, more than in all but a handful of states. Like many wealthy states, Virginia residents’ incomes remained effectively unchanged last year compared to 2012. Like a number of wealthy states, Virginia’s unemployment rate of just 5.5% last year was much lower than the national rate of 7.4%. Vermont was also home to a large number of particularly wealthy households. Last year, 7.8% of all households in the state earned $200,000 or more, the fifth-highest rate in the nation.

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7. New Hampshire
> Median household income: $64,230
> Population: 1,323,459 (9th smallest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.3% (10th lowest)
> Pct. Below poverty line: 8.7% (the lowest)

New Hampshire’s household median income in 2013 remained unchanged from 2012, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. In other areas, however, New Hampshire’s economy showed improvement. Only 8.7% of the state’s roughly 1.3 million people lived below the poverty line in 2013, the lowest proportion in the country and down from 10% in 2012. High median incomes and a low poverty rate demonstrate how New Hampshire has one of the most equitable income distributions in the country. High median incomes likely also drove up home values. The median home value of $233,300 last year was among the higher levels nationwide. Just 10.7% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, one of the lower rates in the country.

6. Massachusetts
> Median household income: $66,768
> Population: 6,692,824 (14th largest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (21st highest)
> Pct. Below poverty line: 11.9% (11th lowest)

Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states in the U.S. and also among the nation’s most unequal. While 8.3% of state households had an income of $200,000 or more in 2013, the fourth highest percentage in the nation, 6.5% of households earned less than $10,000 last year, higher than in most of the other wealthiest states. Additionally, 12.9% of households relied on food stamp benefits last year, also higher than in most of the richest states. This figure is up considerably from 2009, when 9.4% of households relied on food stamps. On the other hand, perhaps no state, no state has a stronger track record of providing health coverage to residents than Massachusetts. Just 3.7% of the population was uninsured last year, the lowest rate nationwide.

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