America’s Richest (and Poorest) States

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50. Mississippi
> Median household income:
$39,680
> Population: 2,994,079 (20th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.8% (2nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 21.5% (the highest)

Mississippi’s median household income in 2014 remained unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. The typical Mississippi household earned $39,680 last year, well below the national median of $53,657. Relatively low levels of education may have contributed to lower incomes in the state. Just 21.1% of adults in Mississippi had a bachelor’s degree as of last year, versus the national attainment rate of 30.1%. As in many low-income states, poverty was also a major problem. Mississippi had the highest poverty rate in the country last year, at 21.5%. Also, the state’s unemployment rate of 7.8% last year, despite declining from the year before, remained among the highest nationwide. Low incomes and a weak job market may have contributed to low real estate values as well. Nearly 21% of homes were valued at less than $50,000, the second highest rate in the country of home values this low.

49. West Virginia
> Median household income:
$41,059
> Population: 1,850,326 (13th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (17th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (7th highest)

West Virginia’s median household income in 2014 was unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. The typical West Virginia household earned $41,059 last year, well below the national median income of $53,657. As many low-income states, poverty was also a major problem. West Virginia had the seventh highest poverty rate in the country last year, at 18.3%. Across the state, homes were valued at just $103,900, more than $77,000 lower than the national benchmark of $181,200. Additionally, over 21% of homes were valued at less than $50,000, the highest rate in the country. Low incomes and a weak job market may have contributed to the low real estate values. At 6.5%, the state had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. High unemployment may be the result of low levels of education. Only 19.2% of adults in West Virginia had a bachelor’s degree as of last year, the lowest attainment rate in the country.

48. Arkansas
> Median household income:
$41,262
> Population: 2,966,369 (19th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.1% (25th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.9% (6th highest)

Arkansas’s median household income in 2014 remained unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. The typical Arkansas household earned $41,262 last year, well below the national median income of $53,657. Like in many states with lower incomes, poverty was also a major issue. Arkansas had the sixth highest poverty rate in the country last year, at 18.9%. Statewide, homes were valued relatively low. The typical home in Arkansas was valued at $112,500, nearly $70,000 below the national benchmark of $181,200. Additionally, nearly 19% of homes were valued at less than $50,000, the third highest share in the country of homes valued so low. Low incomes may be partially due to low levels of education. Only 21.4% of adults in Arkansas had a bachelor’s degree as of last year, the second lowest post-secondary educational attainment rate in the nation.

47. Alabama
> Median household income:
$42,830
> Population: 4,849,377 (23rd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.8% (11th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.3% (4th highest)

Alabama’s median household income in 2014 remained mostly unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. The typical Alabama household earned $42,830 last year, well below the national median income of $53,657. Like in many of the states with low median household incomes, poverty was also a major problem. Alabama had the fourth highest poverty rate in the country last year, at 19.3%. Also, the state’s unemployment rate of 6.8% last year, despite declining from the year before, remained among the highest nationwide. Low incomes and a weak job market may have contributed to low real estate values as well. In Alabama, the median home value was just $125,600, more than $55,000 below the national benchmark of $181,200. Additionally, nearly 17% homes were valued at less than $50,000, the fourth highest rate in the country of homes valued so low.

46. Kentucky
> Median household income:
$42,958
> Population: 4,413,457 (25th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (17th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.1% (5th highest)

A typical Kentucky household earned $42,958 last year, well below the national median income of $53,657, and more than $1,000 lower than the year before. Kentucky was the only state that had a significant decline in its median household income between 2013 and 2014. Nationwide, median household incomes grew roughly $600 over that period. Poverty was also a major problem. Kentucky had the fifth highest poverty rate in the country last year, at 19.1%. Statewide, homes were valued relatively low at just $123,800, or more than $55,000 below the national benchmark of $181,200. At 6.5%, the state also had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Low incomes may be due to low levels of education. Only 22.2% of adults in Kentucky had a bachelor’s degree as of last year, compared to 30.1% of adults nationwide.