A state's educationonal attainment levels have a significant impact on average income. Higher educational attainment, such as getting a graduate or professional degree, leads to higher-paying jobs, increasing the average personal income. The states with the highest education attainment are D.C. and Massachusetts, which have the country's two highest average incomes at $88,702 and $81,123. The states with the highest educational attainment levels are Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and New York, which are also among the ten states with the highest average incomes.
The cost of living and the various industries that thrive in a state impact how much money employees are offered, too. The federal government does not determine minimum wage and salaried positions, so the local state governments have full control over these rates, among others.
Average Income by State
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for 2019 was $65,712. Median household income is different from per capita personal income, which was $60,320 at the end of Q3 of 2020. This is $2,801 higher than Q1 of 2020 and $3,728 higher than Q3 2019. Average incomes by state range from $41,776 in Mississippi to $88,702 in the District of Columbia.
States with the Highest Average Incomes
The ten states with the highest average incomes are:
- District of Columbia - $88,702
- Massachusetts - $81,123
- Connecticut - $80,530
- New Jersey - $76,727
- New York - $76,450
- California - $72,430
- Washington - $69,204
- Maryland - $60,067
- Alaska - $66,830
- New Hampshire - $66,565
As previously mentioned, several of these states have the highest educational attainment levels in the United States. Coupled with high incomes are high costs of living. D.C., California, and New York are among the top five most expensive states to live in.
States with the Lowest Average Incomes
The ten states with the lowest average incomes are:
- Mississippi - $41,776
- West Virginia - $44,947
- Kentucky - $45,966
- New Mexico - $46,325
- Alabama - $46,957
- Arkansas - $47,274
- South Carolina - $47,458
- Idaho - $48,591
- Oklahoma - $49,078
- Arizona - $49,823
In contrast with the highest paying states, these states have lower educational attainment levels, with particularly lower rates of Bachelor degree holders and graduate or professional degree holders. While average incomes are significantly lower in these states, the livable wages are too because of overall lower costs of living. Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arkansas have the lowest costs of living in the U.S. Unfortunately, the states above also have very high poverty rates, with Mississippi's 19.6% being the highest.
Incomes in the table below are provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and are the figures for Q3 of 2020.