Special Report

16 States Where Incomes Are Rising Fastest

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11. Pennsylvania
> 10-yr. personal income per capita growth: +27.9%
> Personal income per capita: $56,923 (7th highest)
> 10-yr. employment growth: -0.3% (10th lowest)
> 10-yr. real GDP growth: +11.6% (25th highest)

Pennsylvania reported stronger inflation-adjusted per capita income growth than all but 10 other states over the last decade. Real personal income per capita in the Keystone state stands at $56,923, 27.9% higher than it was in 2010.

Real income can rise when wages climb faster than overall inflation, and when workers put in longer hours on the job — and both factors appear to have been driving income growth in Pennsylvania. Private sector workers put in an average of 34.3 hours a week in 2020 in Pennsylvania, up from 33.3 in 2010, the third largest increase among states. Over the same period, the average weekly wage in the state climbed from $707 to $936, a larger increase than in all but 10 other states.

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10. Washington
> 10-yr. personal income per capita growth: +28.8%
> Personal income per capita: $55,607 (13th highest)
> 10-yr. employment growth: +15.8% (7th highest)
> 10-yr. real GDP growth: +42.8% (the highest)

Real personal income per capita in Washington rose 28.8% over the last decade, from $43,173 in 2010 to $55,607 in 2020. Over the same period, Washington has undergone rapid economic growth. The state’s GDP expanded by 42.8%, the most of any state and more than double the 18.1% national economic growth over that time.

In addition to strong economic growth, an uptick in working hours has also likely contributed to the surge in real personal income per capita in Washington. The typical worker in the state puts in 34.9 hours per week, up from 34.1 hours in 2010 — one of the largest increases of any state.

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9. Oregon
> 10-yr. personal income per capita growth: +29.0%
> Personal income per capita: $49,328 (17th lowest)
> 10-yr. employment growth: +13.7% (12th highest)
> 10-yr. real GDP growth: +29.6% (7th highest)

Real personal income per capita in Oregon stands at $49,328, up 29.0% from a decade ago. Wages rising faster than the cost of living likely contributed to the surge in real per capita income in the state. The average weekly wage in Oregon is $975, up 34.7% from $724 in 2010. Nationwide, average weekly wages rose by 31.8% over the same period.

Oregon also has a larger share of the population in the workforce compared to a decade ago, and this has also likely driven up real personal income per capita in the state. Overall employment climbed by 13.7% between 2010 and 2020, outpacing the state’s 10.7% population growth over the same period. An estimated 43.0% of Oregon’s population were working as of 2020, up from 41.9% in 2010.

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8. Arkansas
> 10-yr. personal income per capita growth: +29.1%
> Personal income per capita: $48,263 (12th lowest)
> 10-yr. employment growth: +6.8% (17th highest)
> 10-yr. real GDP growth: +8.7% (17th lowest)

Real personal income per capita in Arkansas was 29.1% higher in 2020 than it was a decade ago — well above the comparable growth nationwide. Despite the increase, real personal income is still relatively low in Arkansas, at $48,263 per capita compared to $53,072 nationwide.

The increase in Arkansas appears to be largely attributable to greater work force participation. Just 39.9% of the state’s population worked in 2010, compared to 41.0% in 2020. The increase is the 12th highest of any state.

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7. New York
> 10-yr. personal income per capita growth: +29.7%
> Personal income per capita: $56,186 (9th highest)
> 10-yr. employment growth: +2.7% (19th lowest)
> 10-yr. real GDP growth: +10.6% (20th lowest)

In 2010, real personal income per capita was $43,313 in New York state, the 20th highest among the 50 states. As of 2020, real personal income in the state was $56,186 — ninth highest among states. The 29.7% 10-year increase in inflation-adjusted income per capita is the one of the highest in the country.

As is often the case, the increase in income per capita in New York appears to be largely attributable to increased workforce participation, from 44.1% of the population working in 2010 to 45.4% in 2020. Employment in the state grew by 2.7% over the last decade, even as the state’s population contracted by 4.4%.

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