Here Are America’s Richest and Poorest States
Census Bureau report shows most of the country, including major metro areas, enjoyed median income gains and poverty declines
A day after reporting that household median income rose for the third straight year in 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that the gains have been geographically broad-based.
The report from the agency’s Current Population Survey on Wednesday showed a 1.8 percent increase in median household income. On Thursday, the Census Bureau released income and poverty statistics on the state and local level from a separate program, the American Community Survey (ACS).
Household median income increased in 24 states and the District of Columbia from 2016 to 2017, according to the report. The change was not statistically significant in 25 states.
Median income dropped in only one state, Alaska, where the household median income decreased by 6.1 percent.
“Since 2012, real median household income is up in nearly every state,” Census Bureau statistician Gloria Guzman said in a statement. “Only seven states and Puerto Rico haven’t experienced a statistically significant increase. However, since before the recession in 2007, the picture is more mixed. Nineteen states have seen household median income increase, whereas 12 as well as Puerto Rico have seen it decline.”
The story is similar for the nation’s biggest metropolitan regions. Median household income rose in 17 of the 25 most populous metro areas between 2016 and 2017. It was essentially the same in the other eight.
None of the largest metro areas experienced a statistically significant decline in median income.
Median income varies widely among those metro regions. The richest region last year, by that measure, was the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area. Half of households there made more than $101,714, and half earned less.
At the other end of spectrum was the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area in Florida, where the midpoint was $52,212 in 2017.
The ACS data show similar trends when it comes to poverty. The poverty rate declined in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Ten of those states enjoyed a poverty decline for the third consecutive year; it was the fourth straight improvement in five states.
Only two states saw a statistically significant increase in the poverty rate — West Virginia and Delaware.
Mississippi led the nation in poverty last year, with 19.8 percent of residents living below that line. New Mexico and Louisiana were close behind, with 19.7 percent living in poverty. West Virginia was next at 19.1 percent.
Six states had poverty rates in 2017 of less than 10 percent of the population, according to the data. New Hampshire had the lowest rate at 7.7 percent, followed by Maryland (9.3 percent), Hawaii and Minnesota (both at 9.5 percent), Connecticut (9.6 percent), and Utah (9.7 percent).
Extreme poverty is also retreating in many places. The census report shows that the share of residents with incomes of less than half the poverty rate declined in 14 states and the district, along with six of the 25 biggest metro areas.
That share increased in four states and one of the 25 metros.
The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan region in Texas has the dubious distinction of having the nation’s highest poverty rate among metro areas — 30 percent in 2017. The Napa, California, metro area had the nation’s lowest rate last year, 5.6 percent.