Detailed findings & methodology:
U.S. economic indicators and the labor market continued to improve in 2017. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in 2017 from 4.9% the year before. Over the same period, the median household income in the U.S. climbed from $58,820 to $60,336. Half of the 50 states reported a statistically meaningful improvement in median household income in 2017, while median income in the remaining states remained effectively unchanged, or even dropped.
One of the best indicators of whether or not a state is wealthy is education. Nine of the 10 wealthiest states have a larger share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree than the 32.0% national share. Alaska is the only state with a high median household income and low educational attainment rate. Each of the 10 poorest states in the country is home to a smaller than typical share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree.
To identify the richest and poorest states with the highest and lowest median household income, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state data on income from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). Median household income for all years is adjusted for inflation. Data on health insurance coverage, employment by industry, and poverty also came from the 2017 ACS. We also reviewed annual average unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2016 and 2017.