Special Report

America's Richest (and Poorest) States

Hartford, Connecticut
Source: Thinkstock

5. Connecticut
> Median household income: $71,346
> Population: 3,590,886 (22nd lowest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 5.6% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.5% (6th lowest)

A typical Connecticut household earns $71,346 in a year, considerably higher than the national median income of $55,775. With such high incomes, residents are better able to afford more expensive homes. Connecticut’s median home value of $270,900 is among the highest nationwide. A portion of every state’s population is extremely wealthy, and the share of such high earners is especially large in Connecticut. More than one in 10 households earn $200,000 or more a year. Connecticut’s relatively high education attainment rate partially accounts for the high incomes in the area. More than 38.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 30.6% nationally.

Princeton Chapel, New Jersey
Source: Thinkstock

4. New Jersey
> Median household income: $72,222
> Population: 8,958,013 (11th highest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 5.6% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (8th lowest)

While New Jersey households report some of the highest incomes in the nation, living in the state is not cheap. Goods and services cost an average of 14.5% more in New Jersey than across the country. Housing is also very expensive in the state. The median home value of $322,600 in New Jersey is considerably higher than the national median home value of $194,500.

Few states have a higher proportion of high-income households than New Jersey, where 10.9% earn $200,000 or more a year. While certainly not a guarantee for such high wages, high college attainment among adults in New Jersey partially explains the high median income. More than 37.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.6% nationally.

Two seaplanes parked at a harbor, Ketchikan, Alaska
Source: Thinkstock

3. Alaska
> Median household income: $73,355
> Population: 738,432 (3rd lowest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 6.5% (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.3% (5th lowest)

A typical Alaska household earns $73,355 annually, nearly $18,000 more than the typical American household. While the price of oil has fallen considerably in recent years, Alaska still relies heavily on its traditionally high-paying oil industry. Of workers in the state, 5.6% work in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, and mining sector — which includes the oil industry — the sixth highest such share of any state. State workers who are employed in the industry likely still earn relatively high wages.

Like the nation, the percentage of people without health insurance in Alaska dropped substantially in 2015. However, 14.9% of residents still do not have health insurance, the second highest rate in the nation.

An aerial view of a Maui beach, Kahului, Hawaii
Source: Thinkstock

2. Hawaii
> Median household income: $73,486
> Population: 1,431,603 (11th lowest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 3.6% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.6% (7th lowest)

With its picturesque island scenery, Hawaii attracts some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. The state is also home to some of the more valuable real estate. Hawaii’s median household income trails only Maryland as the highest in the country, and the median home value of $566,900 is the highest of any state and several times greater than the national median home value of $194,500. Even the richest states do not necessarily have especially healthy job markets, but Hawaii’s unemployment rate of 3.6% in 2015 was one of the lowest in the country.

Johns Hopkins, Maryland
Source: Thinkstock

1. Maryland
> Median household income: $75,847
> Population: 6,006,401 (19th highest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 5.2% (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (2nd lowest)

Maryland leads the nation with a median annual household income of $75,847. The state’s poverty rate of less than 10% is also nearly the lowest of any state. The prosperity can be partially explained by high levels of education among state residents. More than 38% of adults have at least a college degree, many of whom are likely among the state’s high-income residents. The state also contains Washington D.C., home to some of the nation’s highest-paying government occupations. More than 10% of Maryland workers are employed in public administration, which represents only one portion of such government jobs.

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