States Where the Most People Make Under $15,000

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In the lower 48 states, a single adult earning $12,140 or less has an income below the poverty line. For families, the poverty line increases by $4,320 for every additional family member. Though work generally provides enough income to the typical U.S. household to stay out of poverty, many working Americans earn poverty and near-poverty wages and struggle daily to make ends meet.

Many Americans who work less than full-time live in poverty, but a 40-hour-per-week job by no means guarantees financial well-being. Today, there are more than 5 million Americans who work full-time jobs year-round and still earn less than $15,000 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While some may be single and live alone, many likely have families to support, including children.

Low-wage workers are concentrated more heavily in some states than in others. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine the states where the highest share of full-time workers people make under $15,000 a year.

Full-time employees who earn less than $15,000 are more common in states with lower educational attainment rates — many of which are located in the South. These states also have relatively high rates of residents who rely on SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, to help with groceries. These states also tend to have high unemployment rates. Workers may be forced to take low-paying jobs because of the difficult economic conditions in these states.

To determine the states where the most people earn under $15,000 a year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the percentage of full-time, year-round workers who earn $1-$14,999 from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.

Geography Full-Time workers earning <$15,000 Rank Full-time workers earning <$15,000 Rank
Louisiana 115,160 14 7.70% 1
New Mexico 46,542 34 7.53% 2
Mississippi 59,830 28 6.54% 3
Idaho 34,241 36 6.48% 4
Montana 21,592 41 6.31% 5
Oklahoma 80,148 22 6.23% 6
South Carolina 98,161 18 5.95% 7
Georgia 213,333 5 5.91% 8
Arkansas 56,845 29 5.86% 9
Wyoming 11,641 47 5.85% 10
Texas 564,386 2 5.74% 11
Alabama 87,672 20 5.74% 12
West Virginia 28,896 39 5.62% 13
Kentucky 79,190 24 5.55% 14
Florida 371,662 3 5.44% 15
Tennessee 123,381 13 5.38% 16
North Carolina 187,206 6 5.33% 17
Kansas 53,959 31 5.10% 18
Arizona 113,057 15 5.03% 19
Missouri 101,146 17 4.78% 20
Nevada 49,693 33 4.78% 21
Michigan 149,852 10 4.68% 22
United States 5,182,763 . 4.67% .
Indiana 103,484 16 4.56% 23
California 579,455 1 4.46% 24
Colorado 92,795 19 4.45% 25
Vermont 9,555 49 4.41% 26
Maine 19,980 42 4.40% 27
Iowa 50,588 32 4.33% 28
Nebraska 31,738 37 4.31% 29
Virginia 133,656 11 4.28% 30
Utah 42,737 35 4.27% 31
Ohio 165,989 9 4.23% 32
Hawaii 22,187 40 4.14% 33
Pennsylvania 182,134 7 4.14% 34
South Dakota 13,035 43 4.08% 35
North Dakota 12,011 45 4.07% 36
Oregon 53,992 30 4.07% 37
New York 272,584 4 3.98% 38
Illinois 173,957 8 3.93% 39
New Jersey 126,044 12 3.91% 40
Wisconsin 79,944 23 3.83% 41
Alaska 9,478 50 3.82% 42
Delaware 11,266 48 3.55% 43
Maryland 78,962 25 3.43% 44
Washington 82,561 21 3.27% 45
Rhode Island 11,657 46 3.15% 46
Minnesota 61,869 27 3.05% 47
Massachusetts 64,873 26 2.64% 48
New Hampshire 12,868 44 2.57% 49
Connecticut 29,144 38 2.34% 50