The national poverty and income figures released recently by the government paint a dark picture of the economy. The total number of households living below the poverty line is the highest since 1959, when records were first kept. The median income is the same level it was in 1996.
Despite the trend, some states are still well above the national poverty level. Using the latest Census data, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the ten states where median income is the highest in the country and poverty rates are low.
Nearly all the states with high median incomes and low poverty levels also have relatively healthy economies. Some states benefit from core industries that are performing well. Alaska, which relies on oil extraction, is doing well in part due to the relatively high price of oil. Utah’s major cities are growing as tech companies and research firms relocate there. Hawaii and Colorado serve as resort locations for the rich and retired.
Other states benefit from their proximity to other states. These states have large and affluent suburbs serving America’s large cities. While New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland have their own industry, they are also home to commuters who work in Washington D.C. and New York City. Many of these suburbs are some of the richest in the country. And while these states have major metropolitan areas of their own, the median income in these states is not weighed down by the low-income residents that live in these bigger cities, unlike New York and D.C.
These are the ten richest states as researched and compiled by 24/7 Wall St.:
Median income: $59,125
Poverty rate: 11.5 (18th lowest)
Without health insurance: 7.5 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment: 6.1 (10th lowest)
Hawaii has one of the healthiest economies in the country, bolstered by a large number of wealthy retirees and a vibrant tourism industry. As a result, the state’s median household income is just shy of $60,000. The state’s percentage of retirees also means that more residents are covered by the federal government under medicare, and so there is smaller burden on the state. (Blaze note: So while the state itself is robust, part of that is due to the fact that the nation is paying for a large portion of its resident's healthcare.) The Honolulu Statistical Area, which represents more than 70 percent of the state’s population, has a median income of more than $67,000 per household, well above the median metropolitan statistical area income of $50,000.
Median income: $59,669
Poverty rate: 11.9 (20th lowest)
Without health insurance: 14.3 (23rd highest)
Unemployment: 8.5 (22nd highest)
Colorado’s unemployment rate of 8.5 percent is not ideal — nor is its high number of people without health insurance. Most of Colorado consists of poor rural areas, like Costilla County, which has a median income of less than $25,000. However, the most populous areas, including Denver and Boulder, all have median incomes at or above the national level. Colorado’s extremely affluent resort cities, including Littleton, Aurora, and Aspen, have pushed it to the top tier of wealthy states. Douglas County, which is located near Colorado Springs, is the seventh-wealthiest county in the United States.
Median income: $59,857
Poverty rate: 9.1 (3rd lowest)
Without health insurance: 13.2 (23rd highest)
Unemployment: 7.5 (15th lowest)
Utah has the third-lowest poverty rate in the United States. While the Salt Lake City metropolitan region, and nearby Ogden and Provo, make up only a small part of the state, a huge percent of the state’s population lives in the area. All three are flourishing with young populations and diverse economies bolstered by technology, health care and several large universities. And because these cities represent most of the state’s population, the state’s median income is high. Davis County, which is part of the Ogden Metropolitan Statistical Area, is home to roughly 10 percent of the state’s population. It also has a median income of $66,220, the third-highest in the state.
Median income: $60,923
Poverty rate: 10.9 (14th lowest)
Without health insurance: 5 (the lowest)
Unemployment: 7.6 (16th lowest)
Massachusetts has powerful education and health care industries, both of which contribute to the above-average incomes for its residents. The state has among the most well-distributed wealth in the country. Unlike Colorado, which is characterized by extremely poor rural areas and extremely wealthy suburbs, nearly every county in Massachusetts exceeds the national median income of $50,221. As evidence of the even distribution of wealth, the state’s wealthiest county, Norfolk, has a median household income of just under $80,000. Though high, it is not even in the top 25 wealthiest counties in the U.S.
Median income: $61,544
Poverty rate: 10.6 (12th lowest)
Without health insurance: 12.9 (21st lowest)
Unemployment: 6.1 (9th lowest)
In terms of wealth and poverty, Virginia can be divided into two regions. The vast majority of the state is rural, located to the south and west. Of its 135 counties, 83 have a median income well below the national average. However, the upper east portion of the state forms a large part of the D.C. suburbs, which are home to many of the nation’s wealthiest families. In fact, six of the counties near the border — Loudon, Falls Church City, Arlington, Prince William, Stafford and Fairfax — are all among the fifteen wealthiest counties in the entire country. The last of these, Fairfax, is also the most populous county in Virginia, representing nearly 40 percent of the state’s total population.
(Michael B. Sauter/Becket Adams - 24/7 Wall St./The Blaze)