Special Report

America's Richest (and Poorest) States

New York Columbus Circle
Source: Thinkstock

15. New York
> Median household income: $60,850
> Population: 19,795,791 (4th highest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 5.3% (23rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (17th highest)

While the median household income in New York is relatively high — roughly $5,000 higher than the corresponding national figure — not all state residents are benefitting. Alongside higher incomes is a higher poverty rate. In fact, New York is one of a handful of rich states with a poverty rate above the 14.7% national rate — 15.4% of state residents live in poverty. With higher than average incomes and relatively pervasive poverty, New York has the worst income inequality in the country.

Those at the lower end of the income spectrum are further strained by a high cost of living. Goods and services are 15.7% more expensive in New York than they are across the country as a whole.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Delaware
> Median household income: $61,255
> Population: 945,934 (6th lowest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 4.9% (22nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.4% (18th lowest)

Delaware’s median household income has not increased meaningfully last year, reflecting little improvement in the residents’ standard of living. Still, incomes in the state remain considerably higher than they are across the country. High median incomes likely drove up home values. The median home value in the state of $240,200 is among the higher values nationwide.

Higher educational attainment typically translates to higher incomes. Delaware residents benefit from higher incomes despite having a college attainment rate roughly in line with that of the nation. In Delaware, 30.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree compared to 30.6% of adults nationwide.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

13. Utah
> Median household income: $62,912
> Population: 2,995,919 (20th lowest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 3.5% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (12th lowest)

The typical household in Utah earns $62,912 a year, over $7,000 more than the typical American household. Furthermore, only 11.3% of state residents live in poverty, well below the 14.7% of American residents who do. With high incomes and a low poverty rate, Utah has the lowest income inequality in the country.

The relative prosperity and equality across the state is likely bolstered by a healthy job market. The state’s 3.5% unemployment rate was one of the lowest in the country in 2015.

Duluth, Minnesota
Source: Thinkstock

12. Minnesota
> Median household income: $63,488
> Population: 5,489,594 (21st highest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 3.7% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.2% (4th lowest)

Higher levels of education typically lead to higher incomes. In Minnesota, where 34.7% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 30.6% of adults nationally, incomes are also — predictably — higher. The typical household in the state earns $63,488 annually, considerably more than the $55,775 the typical American household earns a year. In addition to higher incomes, poverty is relatively scarce in Minnesota. Only 10.2% of state residents live below the poverty line, the fourth smallest share of any state.

Telluride, Colorado
Source: Thinkstock

11. Colorado
> Median household income: $63,909
> Population: 5,456,574 (22nd highest)
> 2015 Unemployment rate: 3.9% (10th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (14th lowest)

Incomes in Colorado have increased meaningfully in 2015, while the food stamp recipiency rate fell. The typical household in the state earns $63,909 a year, up from $61,351 in 2014. Meanwhile, only 8.4% of state residents rely on food stamps, down half a percentage point from 2014. Both of these measures demonstrate that Colorado is better off economically than much of the country.

The state’s improved economic outcomes are likely the result of an improving job market. The 3.9% unemployment rate in 2015 was one of the lowest in the country and a marked improvement over the 5.0% unemployment rate in 2014.

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