Amer­ica’s high­est-earn­ing state may sur­prise you

Dayton Daily News - - FROM PAGE ONE -

Pop quiz: Which U.S. state had the high­est me­dian in­come in 2016?

New York or Cal­i­for­nia, per­haps, home to some of the nation’s wealth­i­est cities? Mary­land or Vir­ginia, with their Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs flush with gov­ern­ment cash? Alaska, home of the fa­mous oil rev­enue checks for ev­ery man, wo­man and child?

All of those guesses are wrong, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est 2016 in­come data re­leased by the U.S. Cen­sus. The cor­rect an­swer, be­lieve it or not: New Hamp­shire.

The Gran­ite State’s me­dian house­hold in­come last year was a whop­ping $76,260, nearly 30 per­cent higher than the na­tional me­dian of $59,039, ac­cord­ing to the cen­sus.

The typ­i­cal New Hamp­shire house­hold earned $35,000 a year more than the typ­i­cal house­hold in the coun­try’s poor­est state, Mis­sis­sippi, where the me­dian in­come is $41,099. Put an­other way, the me­dian in­come in Mis­sis­sippi to­day is about as low as the me­dian in­come in New Hamp­shire 20 years ago, in 1997 ($40,998).

One of the chief driv­ers of New Hamp­shire’s high me­dian in­come is its low­est-in-the-nation poverty rate. Only 6.9 per­cent of the state’s res­i­dents live be­low the poverty line, com­pared with a na­tional aver­age of 13.7 per­cent (in Mis­sis­sippi nearly 21 per­cent of peo­ple live in poverty).

New Hamp­shire’s work­force is also among the best-ed­u­cated in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ously re­leased cen­sus data. Bet­ter-ed­u­cated work­ers tend to make more money.

Con­necti­cut is the se­cond-high­est-earn­ing state, with a me­dian house­hold in­come of $75,923. Alaska, Mary­land and Mas­sachusetts round out the top five.

Con­versely, the low­est-earn­ing states are clus­tered in the South. They in­clude Mis­sis­sippi ($41,099), along with Louisiana ($42,196), West Vir­ginia ($44,354), Ken­tucky ($45,369) and Arkansas ($45,907).

One word of cau­tion: Th­ese are sur­vey data, and like all sur­veys the in­come fig­ures are sub­ject to sam­pling er­ror. In all but the largest states, the mar­gin of er­ror around the in­come num­bers is in the $1,000 to $3,000 range. Dif­fer­ences be­tween the states of a few hun­dred dol­lars don’t mean a whole lot.

It’s also worth not­ing that the Cen­sus’s me­dian house­hold in­come num­bers dif­fer from the per capita in­come fig­ures pub­lished by other fed­eral agen­cies, such as the Bureau of Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis. Each data set has its own strengths and weak­nesses, but over­all their con­tours are sim­i­lar. New Hamp­shire comes out look­ing pretty good in both, for in­stance.

In the cen­sus data, New Hamp­shire’s strong show­ing is con­sis­tent from year to year — it hasn’t fallen out off the list of top five states for me­dian house­hold in­come in the past decade.


Alabama Alaska Ari­zona Arkansas Cal­i­for­nia Colorado Con­necti­cut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illi­nois In­di­ana Iowa Kansas Ken­tucky Louisiana Maine Mary­land Mass. Michi­gan Min­nesota Mis­sis­sippi Mis­souri Mon­tana Ne­braska Ne­vada New Hamp. New Jersey New Mex­ico New York N. Carolina N. Dakota Ohio Ok­la­homa Ore­gon Penn­syl­va­nia Rhode Is­land S. Carolina S. Dakota Ten­nessee Texas Utah Ver­mont Vir­ginia Wash­ing­ton West Vir­ginia Wis­con­sin Wy­oming $47,221 $75,723 $57,100 $45,907 $66,637 $70,566 $75,923 $58,046 $51,176 $53,527 $72,133 $56,564 $61,386 $56,094 $59,094 $56,810 $45,369 $42,196 $50,856 $73,760 $72,266 $57,091 $70,218 $41,099 $55,016 $57,075 $59,374 $55,431 $76,260 $68,468 $48,451 $61,437 $53,764 $60,184 $53,985 $50,943 $59,135 $60,979 $61,528 $54,336 $57,450 $51,344 $58,146 $67,481 $60,837 $66,451 $70,310 $44,354 $59,817 $57,829

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