Per capita income (PCI), or average income, measures the amount of income earned per person in a nation or geographic region. It is calculated by dividing the region's income by its population. PCI includes every adult and child, even newborn babies, as a member of the population. This differs from other economic measures, such as median household income, which counts every person living in one home as a household.
Per capita income can be used to evaluate the standard of living and quality of life of a population. Several factors affect income levels in a population. Generally, the richest states have the most educated populations. Higher educational attainment leads to higher-paying jobs and overall wealth. Additionally, overall economic well-being significantly affects per capita income. In 2019, the per capita income was $56,663.
The following ten states have the highest PCI, in descending order: District of Columbia ($84,538), Connecticut ($79,087), Massachusetts ($74,967), New York ($71,440), New Jersey ($70,979), California ($66,661), Maryland ($65,683), Washington ($64,898), New Hampshire ($63,880), and Wyoming ($63,316). Unsurprisingly, the four richest states in terms of median household income are also among the states with the highest PCI: District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. California and New York also have high median incomes and have the highest and third-highest GDPs of $3.120 billion and $1.705 billion. Additionally, several of these states are among the nation's ten most educated states: D.C., Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, and New Hampshire.
The following ten states have the lowest PCI, in ascending order: Mississippi ($39,368), West Virignia ($42,336), Alabama ($43,984), Kentucky ($44,017), Arkansas ($44,845), South Carolina ($45,314), Idaho ($45,642), Arizona ($46,233), and North Carolina ($47,803). Mississippi has the lowest PCI of $39,368. Unfortunately, Mississippi also has the nation's highest poverty rate of 19.6%. New Mexico, Kentucky, and Arkansas are also among the five states with the highest poverty rates, with 18.2%, 16.3%, and 16.2%. Of the states with the lowest per capita income, the top seven states are also among the ten states considered to be the least educated. This is according to WalletHub's analysis. The three states not included in this are Idaho, Arizona, and North Carolina, although these states did not score well either.