Special Report

America's Richest and Poorest States

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20. Oregon
> Median household income: $60,212
> Population: 4,142,776 (24th lowest)
> 2017 unemployment rate: 4.1% (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.2% (23rd highest)

Oregon has one of the highest median home values in the country at $319,200 — more than $100,000 above the U.S. median home value. Higher home values can often be a sign that people are confident in their financial future, as they are willing to take on costly long-term purchases, such as buying a house. Oregon adults tend to be better educated than those in most other states, with a 33.7% bachelor’s degree attainment rate. This high level of education makes many state residents more likely to earn higher wages.

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19. Wyoming
> Median household income: $60,434
> Population: 579,315 (the lowest)
> 2017 unemployment rate: 4.2% (24th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (17th lowest)

Wyoming is one of 19 states with a median household income higher than that of the U.S., which is $60,336. The state’s median household income remained virtually unchanged from 2016 to 2017. During that same time, there was a notable uptick in the percentage of Wyoming households living in extreme poverty. In 2016, just 5.1% of Wyoming households lived on less than $10,000 per year, but that figure increased to 6.2% in 2017. For context, the percentage of U.S. households in extreme poverty dropped from 6.6% to 6.5% in that same timespan.

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18. North Dakota
> Median household income: $61,843
> Population: 755,393 (4th lowest)
> 2017 unemployment rate: 2.6% (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.3% (9th lowest)

North Dakota has one of the best high school attainment rates in the country at 92.9%. A high school diploma can make a person eligible for a number of jobs that they would not otherwise be a good candidate for. Higher high school attainment rates can also be correlated with low unemployment rates. North Dakota has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country at 2.6%. Only Hawaii has a lower share of its labor force out of work.

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17. Delaware
> Median household income: $62,852
> Population: 961,939 (6th lowest)
> 2017 unemployment rate: 4.6% (19th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (19th highest)

Unlike almost all other states, the unemployment rate in Delaware did not decrease from 2016 to 2017, when the U.S. unemployment rate as a whole dropped 0.5%. During that same time period, Delaware’s median household income did not grow significantly, as opposed to many other higher income states. As a result, Delaware fell two spots on this list from 15th to 17th.

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16. Illinois
> Median household income: $62,992
> Population: 12,802,023 (6th highest)
> 2017 unemployment rate: 5.0% (8th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.6% (24th lowest)

Despite having a high median household income compared to other states, Illinois also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Some 5.0% of the state’s labor force is out of work, driving down the state’s median household income, as an above average number of people in the labor force are unable to find jobs. Chicago is Illinois’ largest city and one of the country’s major hubs for business. This may be a reason why an outsized share of Illinois households — 7.5% — earn more than $200,000.