America’s Richest (and Poorest) States

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20. Vermont
> Median household income:
$54,166
> Population: 626,562 (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.1% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (15th lowest)

Vermont’s median household income in 2014 remained effectively unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. The state’s relatively high education attainment rate partly accounts for the high incomes in the state. Nearly 35% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree last year compared to 30.1% of adults nationally. The state also had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 4.1%, more than two percentage points lower than the nationwide jobless rate of 6.2% in 2014.

19. Rhode Island
> Median household income:
$54,891
> Population: 1,055,173 (8th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.7% (3rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.3% (24th lowest)

Rhode Island’s median household income in 2014 remained effectively unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. The state’s unemployment rate of 7.7% last year, despite declining 1.6 percentage points from the year before, was third highest nationwide. Rhode Island’s relatively high post-secondary education attainment rate partly accounts for the relatively high incomes in the state. More than 30.4% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year compared to 30.1% nationally. However, Rhode Island had a relatively low share of residents with at least a high school diploma compared to the rest of the country, at 85.8%. The state also had the seventh-highest measure of income inequality in the country.

18. Wyoming
> Median household income:
$57,055
> Population: 584,153 (the lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.3% (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)

Wyoming’s 2014 median household income of $57,055 went down slightly from 2013. While the standard of living did not improve meaningfully in Wyoming, in 2013, state residents were already among the wealthier Americans. Just 6.7% of households relied on food stamp benefits, the lowest level of SNAP recipiency of any state. High median incomes also drove up home values. The median home value of $201,000 last year was among the higher levels nationwide. High median incomes and a low poverty rate are evidence of Wyoming’s equitable income distribution. Based on the Gini coefficient, income was more evenly distributed in Wyoming than in all but one other state last year.

17. Illinois
> Median household income:
$57,444
> Population: 12,880,580 (5th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.4% (25th lowest)

Illinois’s median household income went up slightly from $56,962 in 2013 to $57,444 in 2014, nearly $4,000 higher than the corresponding national income of $53,697. Illinois’s relatively high education attainment rate partly accounts for the high incomes in the state. More than 32.8% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year compared to 30.1% of adults nationally. While incomes were relatively high statewide, home values were relatively low. A typical home in Illinois was worth about $171,900, slightly less than the national benchmark of $181,200.
Despite declining two percentage points from the year before, the state’s unemployment rate remained among the highest nationwide. Slightly more than 7% of the state’s workforce were actively seeking a job in 2014 compared to a national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

16. New York
> Median household income:
$58,878
> Population: 19,746,227 (4th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.3% (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.9% (19th highest)

New York’s median household income in 2014 was effectively unchanged from 2013, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. High median incomes likely drove up home values. The median home value of $279,100 last year was among the higher levels nationwide. Although some of the wealthiest Americans live in New York, nearly 15.9% of state residents lived in poverty last year, one of a handful of rich states with a poverty rate above the national rate of 15.5%. The disparity is likely due to severe income inequality among the state’s roughly 20 million residents. New York’s Gini coefficient was the highest in the country last year. Few states had a higher proportion of high-income households than New York, where 7.6% earned $200,000 or more in 2014. New York’s relatively high education attainment rate partly accounts for the high incomes in the state. More than 34.5% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2014 compared to 30.1% of adults nationally.