Special Report

America's Richest and Poorest States

Source: Thinkstock

50. Mississippi
> Median household income: $41,754
> Population: 2,988,726 (19th lowest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 5.8% (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 20.8% (the highest)

Despite Mississippi’s median household income climbing by $844 between 2015 and 2016 to $41,754, it remains the lowest of any state. The state’s poverty rate of 20.8% is also the highest in the country and well above the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate. Low incomes in Mississippi are reflected in property values across the state. The typical Mississippi home is worth only $113,900, the lowest of any state and well below the $205,000 median home value nationwide.

As is the case in many of the lower income states, Mississippi’s job market is hurting. Some 5.8% of the state’s labor force is out of a job, well above the 4.9% U.S. unemployment rate.

Source: Thinkstock

49. West Virginia
> Median household income: $43,385
> Population: 1,831,102 (13th lowest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 6.0% (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.9% (5th highest)

West Virginia’s median household income of $43,385 remains effectively unchanged from 2015. But because Arkansas’ household income, which was second lowest last year, increased by nearly $2,000, it surpassed that of West Virginia and moved up a spot. West Virginia, on the other hand, dropped to having second lowest median household income. Better news for the state is the fact that annual average unemployment declined from 6.8%, the highest in the country in 2015, to 6.0% in 2016 — a better rate than in three other states.

Source: Thinkstock

48. Arkansas
> Median household income: $44,334
> Population: 2,988,248 (18th lowest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 4.0% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (6th highest)

With a median household income of only $44,334, Arkansas is one of only three U.S. states where more than half of all households earn less than $45,000 a year. Though it ranks as the third poorest state, incomes in Arkansas increased in 2016. The typical Arkansas household earned about $2,000 more last year than it did in 2015. The share of state residents living in poverty fell from 19.1% to 17.2% over the same period.

47. Louisiana
> Median household income: $45,146
> Population: 4,681,666 (25th highest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 6.1% (3rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 20.2% (2nd highest)

The typical Louisiana household earns only $45,146 a year, less than in all but three other U.S. states. Serious financial hardship is relatively common in Louisiana as about one in every five state residents live below the poverty line, the second highest poverty rate of any state — and well above the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate. Low incomes and high poverty rates are indicative of a poor job market, and that appears to be the case in Louisiana. Some 6.1% of the state’s labor force are out of a job, the third highest unemployment rate of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

46. Alabama
> Median household income: $46,257
> Population: 4,863,300 (24th highest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 6.0% (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.1% (7th highest)

Alabama’s poverty rate, while still quite high compared to most states, fell significantly last year. In 2015, 18.5% of the state’s population lived at or below the poverty line, the fifth highest rate in the country. The state’s poverty of rate of 17.1% in 2016, however, is currently the seventh highest among states. While Alabama’s poverty rate is no longer in the top five, incomes for the many of the lowest earners in the state have remained relatively stagnant over the past year. In 2016, 9.5% of Alabama households earned less than $10,000, effectively unchanged from 2015.

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