Special Report

States Where Incomes Have Gone Up the Most

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5. Delaware
> 1 yr. change in median household income: +6.7%
> Median household income: $70,176 (2019); $65,743 (2018)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (2019); 12.5% (2018)
> Unemployment: 3.8% (2019); 3.8% (2018)

The income of the typical Delaware household increased by 6.7%, or around $4,400, from 2018 to 2019. As incomes increased, the poverty rate dropped, declining over a full percentage point from 12.5% to 11.3%. The 2019 U.S. poverty rate was 12.3%.

Though Delaware’s median household income increased from 2018 to 2019, its unemployment rate remained constant at 3.8% both years. The state’s unemployment rate is slightly higher than the U.S. unemployment rate of 3.7%.

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4. Idaho
> 1 yr. change in median household income: +8.3%
> Median household income: $60,999 (2019); $56,305 (2018)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (2019); 11.8% (2018)
> Unemployment: 2.9% (2019); 2.9% (2018)

Idaho is one of four states to report an increase in median household income greater than 8% from 2018 to 2019. The income spike came despite a static job market, as unemployment remained unchanged at 2.9% from 2018 to 2019.

Still, the share of low-income residents in the state fell, and the share of high income households rose from 2018 to 2019. Poverty in Idaho fell from 11.8% in 2018 to 11.2% in 2019, while the share of households earning $200,000 or more climbed from 4.3% to 5.0%.

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3. New Mexico
> 1 yr. change in median household income: +8.5%
> Median household income: $51,945 (2019); $47,894 (2018)
> Poverty rate: 18.2% (2019); 19.5% (2018)
> Unemployment: 4.9% (2019); 4.9% (2018)

The income the typical household in New Mexico earns climbed by 8.5% from 2018 to 2019 — the third largest increase of any state and well above the 4.5% increase nationwide. Despite the near nation-leading spike, New Mexico still ranks among the poorest states in the country. The typical New Mexico household earns $51,945 a year, nearly $14,000 less than the typical American household.

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2. Rhode Island
> 1 yr. change in median household income: +8.6%
> Median household income: $71,169 (2019); $65,552 (2018)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (2019); 12.9% (2018)
> Unemployment: 3.6% (2019); 4.0% (2018)

Rhode Island’s median household income grew from $65,552 in 2018 to $71,169 in 2019, an 8.6% jump. This $5,617 increase is the largest dollar increase of any state. No other state’s median household income increased by more than $5,000 from 2018 to 2019.

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage points to 3.6%, likely helping spur the increase to median household incomes statewide. Rhode Island was the only state in which the poverty rate declined by more than 2 percentage points, down to 10.8%.

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1. West Virginia
> 1 yr. change in median household income: +8.9%
> Median household income: $48,850 (2019); $44,870 (2018)
> Poverty rate: 16.0% (2019); 17.8% (2018)
> Unemployment: 4.9% (2019); 5.2% (2018)

With a median household income of $44,870, West Virginia was the poorest state in the country in 2018. However, after reporting a highest-in-the-nation 8.9% increase in median household income, the typical household in West Virginia now earns $48,850 — considerably more than the typical household in Mississippi. The median household income of $45,792 in Mississippi now ranks as the lowest in the nation.

West Virginia also reported one of the steepest declines in poverty of any state. The share of residents living below the poverty line fell from 17.8% in 2018 to 16.0% in 2019, a 1.8 percentage point drop. Rhode Island, where poverty fell by 2.1 percentage points, is the only state to report a larger improvement.

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