13 States Where Incomes Are Booming

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13. Arkansas
> Personal income per capita growth (2008-2018): +16.0%
> Personal income per capita: $39,329 (6th lowest)
> Employment growth (2008-2018): 0.1% (the smallest increase)
> GDP growth (2008-2017): 7.7% (15th smallest increase)

Real personal income per capita climbed 16.0% in Arkansas in the last 10 years, from $33,908 in 2008 to $39,329 in 2018. Climbing incomes are having a meaningful impact on the quality of life of many in the state. In the last five years alone, the share of residents living below the poverty line fell from 19.8% to 16.4%. Additionally, the state is home to a growing share of wealthy residents. The share of households earning $200,000 or more annually climbed to 3.0% in 2017 from 2.0% in 2012.

Despite the rapid economic gains in recent years, Arkansas remains among the poorest states in the country.

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12. Utah
> Personal income per capita growth (2008-2018): +16.0%
> Personal income per capita: $41,892 (10th lowest)
> Employment growth (2008-2018): 15.2% (4th largest increase)
> GDP growth (2008-2017): 21.5% (5th largest increase)

Utah has one of the fastest growing economies in the country. The state’s GDP climbed by 21.5% between 2008 and 2017, faster than all but four other states. Similarly, the state’s labor force expanded by 14.7% over roughly the same period. Job growth more than kept pace with demand for work, as the state’s unemployment rate fell to 3.1% in 2018 from 3.6% in 2008.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy and strong job market, incomes and purchasing power have also climbed in Utah. Personal income per capita in Utah was $41,892 in 2018, up 16% from $36,111 in 2008.

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11. Montana
> Personal income per capita growth (2008-2018): +16.3%
> Personal income per capita: $43,536 (17th lowest)
> Employment growth (2008-2018): 5.2% (24th largest increase)
> GDP growth (2008-2017): 10.6% (23rd largest increase)

Real personal income, indicative of purchasing power, increased by 16.3% in Montana over the last decade — more than in all but 10 other states and well above the 14.3% national increase over that time. Income growth in the state was supported by steady job growth. The annual unemployment rate fell from a post-recession peak of 7.3% in 2010 to 3.7% in 2018, one of the lower unemployment rates among states.

The climbing incomes in Montana may partially be attributable to a better educated workforce. College-educated adults typically earn more than workers with just a high school diploma, and the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree in the state climbed from 29.4% in 2012 to 32.3% in 2017.

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10. Michigan
> Personal income per capita growth (2008-2018): +16.3%
> Personal income per capita: $43,963 (19th lowest)
> Employment growth (2008-2018): 3.7% (15th smallest increase)
> GDP growth (2008-2017): 10.1% (25th largest increase)

Real personal income per capita climbed by 16.3% in Michigan between 2008 and 2018 — well above the 14.3% national increase. Over roughly the same period, the share of households in the state earning less than $10,000 a year fell from 8.7% to 6.8%, and the state’s poverty rate also fell faster than average, from 17.4% to 14.2%.

Michigan is one of the few states on this list to report a net outward migration in the last eight years. Between 2010 and 2018, 53,000 more people moved out of the state than moved in.

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9. North Dakota
> Personal income per capita growth (2008-2018): +16.3%
> Personal income per capita: $50,176 (18th highest)
> Employment growth (2008-2018): 9.6% (15th largest increase)
> GDP growth (2008-2017): 48.7% (the largest increase)

Real personal income per capita climbed by 16.3% in North Dakota in the last decade, more than in all but eight other states. The rapid real personal income growth in North Dakota was driven in part by the state’s oil boom, fueled by hydrofracking in the western part of the state. Thanks to new drilling technologies, which provided access petroleum in the state’s Bakken shale formation, the state produced over 40 million barrels of oil in 2018, nearly eight times the amount it produced in 2008. Meanwhile, employment in the state’s mining and logging industry spiked by over 200%, and the state’s GDP expanded a nation-leading 48.7%.

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