Special Report

America's Richest and Poorest States

Source: Thinkstock

40. Montana
> Median household income: $50,027
> Population: 1,042,520 (7th lowest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 4.1% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (24th highest)

The typical household earns only $50,027 a year in Montana, effectively the same median household income as the year before and well below the current $57,617 national median income. Stagnant incomes are likely tied to a stagnant job market. Montana’s annual unemployment rate of 4.1% is only a slight improvement over 2015, when 4.2% of the state’s workforce was unemployed. Still, the share of unemployed workers in Montana is far less than the 4.9% national rate.

Despite lower than average incomes, a smaller than typical share of state residents face serious financial hardship. Some 13.3% of Montana residents live in poverty, compared to 14.0% of Americans nationwide.

Source: jessicasarahs / Flickr

39. North Carolina
> Median household income: $50,584
> Population: 10,146,788 (9th highest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 5.1% (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (13th highest)

In most U.S. states, the annual median household income is higher than in North Carolina, where the typical household earns $50,584 a year. Still, economic conditions are improving rapidly in the Tar Heel State. The state’s poverty rate stands at 15.4%, down a full percentage point from 2015. Over the same period, unemployment fell in North Carolina from 5.8% to 5.1%.

Source: Thinkstock

38. Florida
> Median household income: $50,860
> Population: 20,612,439 (3rd highest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 4.9% (20th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (16th highest)

The typical Florida household earns $50,860 annually, considerably less than the typical U.S. household income of $57,617. Relatively low incomes in Florida are reflected in property values across the state. The typical Florida home is worth $197,700, less than the $205,000 national median home value.

In keeping with the national trend, economic conditions improved in the Sunshine State in 2016. Florida’s poverty rate fell a full percentage point over the last year, from 15.7% in 2015 to 14.7% in 2016. Similarly, Florida’s annual unemployment rate fell from 5.4% to 4.9%.

Source: Thinkstock

37. Missouri
> Median household income: $51,746
> Population: 6,093,000 (18th highest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 4.5% (22nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (22nd highest)

Missouri’s median household income of $51,746 a year is well below the median income nationwide of $57,617. Despite the lower incomes, the share of Missouri residents facing serious financial hardship is in line with the corresponding share nationwide. The poverty rate across both Missouri and the U.S. as a whole is 14.0%.

Lower incomes in Missouri do not necessarily reflect poor economic conditions. Only 4.5% of the state’s labor force were out of a job, a slightly smaller share than the 4.9% unemployment rate nationwide in 2016.

Source: Thinkstock

36. Idaho
> Median household income: $51,807
> Population: 1,683,140 (12th lowest)
> 2016 Unemployment rate: 3.8% (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.4% (19th highest)

Though Idaho’s 2016 median household income remains lower than in most states, it improved more than in nearly any other state. The typical household in the state earned $51,807 in 2016, over $3,000 more than the year before — more than double the $1,340 increase in median household income nationwide over the same period.

Strong job growth and lower than typical unemployment in the state may partially explain the improvement. The state’s unemployment fell from 4.2% in 2015 to 3.8% in 2016. In comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 5.3% to 4.9% over the same period.

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