Special Report

16 States Where Incomes Are Booming

Michael B. Sauter, Grant Suneson

Detailed Findings & Methodology:

While personal income has increased in nearly all states, it has grown most in Western states. All eight of the states with the highest personal income percentage growth are neighbors. States like Arizona, California, and Utah, added thousands of workers in information, finance, and other high-paying industries.

North Dakota is the only state in which personal income declined from 2012 to 2017. This is a departure, considering that from 2008 to 2017, no state had a larger increase in its personal income than North Dakota, at 30.9%. The state had a huge oil boom in 2007, attracting corporations who hired workers by the thousands. But once oil prices started so slide, the jobs dried up and much of North Dakota’s economic growth abated.

The United States is adding jobs in more specialized and high-income industries. There are 14.1% more people working in the professional and business services industry now than there were in 2007. The sector with the largest employment growth over that period is education and health services, which includes teachers, doctors, and other health care professionals. There are 24.1% more workers in the industry than there were in 2007.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed Bureau of Economic Analysis data on personal income — the sum of net earnings by all people from all sources — in each state for each year from 2012 to 2017. We ranked states by real personal income growth from 2012 to 2017 — measured in 2009 dollars.
The BEA has not yet published real personal income figures for 2017. We derived our own estimates of real personal income for 2017 by adjusting nominal figures from regional and national prices, based on the BEA’s methodology. Also from the BEA, we considered industry contributions to GDP for 2012 and 2016. Labor force, industry employment, and unemployment rates figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Socioeconomic factors, such as educational attainment rates, poverty rates, and net population change from migration, came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey (ACS).