The past decade has seen a variety of social, political, and economic changes. Many states have undergone notable financial growth while others have begun to flounder. When determining which state is the richest, most studies use the most recent U.S. census and look exclusively at the median annual household income. By taking the median and not the average, people with fringe incomes such as millionaires are not able to influence the overall wealth ranking of a state.
With a median annual household income of $80,776, Maryland easily takes the number one spot as the wealthiest state in America. Not only does Maryland have the fourth-largest percentage of federal employees in the country, but it also has some of the best schools available. Thanks to its A. James Clark School of Engineering and Robert H. Smith of Business, the University of Maryland’s graduate program ranks highly in comparison to other schools in the nation.
Though it may seem odd to some people, New Jersey’s median annual household income of $80,088 places it solidly in second place for the wealthiest states. Citizens from rival states may have a negative view of New Jersey, but there’s no doubt that it has taken huge economic strides thanks to its many pharmaceutical and biotechnical industries. Additionally, the state is home to over 5,000 IT businesses, including major names like Verizon. Its tourism industry has also begun to improve dramatically in recent years. This is due to its extensive transportation system and the Las Vegas of the east coast: Cape May, Atlantic City.
It probably doesn’t surprise anyone to see Hawaii on a list of the richest states. In additional to its median household income of $77,765, Hawaii also boasts the lowest food insecurity rate in the nation. It also has the fourth-lowest poverty rate. The state’s diverse natural scenery with an abundance of ocean beaches and warm tropical climate has made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Additionally, the state is a health care haven, ranking first in overall health care quality and third in health care access.
Sitting in fourth place with a median household income of $77,385, Massachusetts tops many different ranking charts. The education and health services fields employ more people in Massachusetts than any other industries. Recent developments in its technology sector have also allowed those industries to flourish. One of its most powerful economic draws is its tourist attractions. With sites like Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts has a steady and robust tourism income. In terms of legislation, Massachusetts is a trendsetter. It was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and the second to pass anti-discrimination laws for people who identify under the LGBTQ+ spectrum. This led to many individuals traveling to the state, which significantly boosted its economy in turn.
One of the original 13 colonies and one of the nation’s oldest states, Connecticut is the fifth wealthiest state thanks to its median household income of $74,168. Connecticut’s strengths lie in its many colleges and universities, several of which boast high academic rankings. The prestigious Yale University is one of the state’s main educational draws. The state also holds the number one ranking for health care access, and its health care industry is one of its largest employers. There are also over 1200 digital media companies in Connecticut, including the legend in sports entertainment, ESPN.
In addition to being one of the richest states in the nation with a median household income of $73,381, New Hampshire also has the lowest poverty rate. Under 8% of New Hampshire citizens fall below the federal poverty line. Though it is one of the smallest states, its economic strength dwarfs its size. Originally, its manufacturing industries consisted mainly of mills and warehouses. In recent years, digital media and technology industries have taken over with their smart manufacturing methods, easily becoming the largest sector of New Hampshire’s economy.
Though Alaska sits on the lower end of the richest states, it also has one of the best income equality among households. This means that its median household income of $73,181 is even more indicative of the overall incomes in the state. Since the completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1977, oil has been responsible for almost 90% of Alaska’s economy. Though it is the largest state in the nation, it also has the lowest population density. In fact, Anchorage alone accounts for almost 40% of its population.
It’s no secret that California is a powerhouse economically, socially, and politically. Its median household income of $71,805 is a bit of a misleading statistic, as the state is home to some of the wealthiest cities and citizens in the nation. The infamous California Gold Rush was the largest mass migration to ever take place in the United States, and it resulted in California booming in population and economic strength. The state is home to everyone from media celebrities to tech industry giants. Despite this, the real estate field and the computer and electronics manufacturing industries contribute more to the state’s economy than any other fields.
A median household income of $71,535 places Virginia easily in the richest states, though it’s interesting where that money comes from. The state’s leading employer is the U.S. government, thanks to its proximity to the nation’s capital. In addition, the state has an incredibly diverse economy. The Atlantic shores and rivers specialize in shipbuilding and fishing while the rural areas are powerful farming centers. Apple growing and wineries also contribute to the state’s economy. Towards Washington, the state begins to meld into a more technology-driven economy with many IT and manufacturing companies.
Though Washington lies in tenth in this list of the richest states, it sits at the top of many different rankings for the best overall state. Its median household income is $70,979, and its economic strengths are incredibly diverse. Washington is one the main exporters for the U.S. thanks to its location on the coast. It also generates around 70% of the country’s apples while simultaneously leading in potato, milk, and cattle production. In addition, the military and defense sector is the second largest employer in the state, with well over 120,000 employees.