The Five Richest US States

October 30th, 2018

Baltimore, Maryland
The Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland has the highest median household income of all US states.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, the median household income in the United States was $59,039, surpassing all previous years. But median household income varies greatly from state to state. Mississippi, for example, has a median household income of only $40,593, while, for one state, the number is close to $76,000!

This article will take a brief look at the top five wealthiest states and provide a few clues as to how they achieve such prosperity.

5. Connecticut

Connecticut is the fifth richest state, with a median household income of $71,346. Located in the northeastern United States, it is the third smallest state by area and the 29th most populous. But with over 3.5 million tightly packed residents, Connecticut ranks fourth in population density.

The state has long been a leader in the financial services industry, hosting major insurance and investment firms. Real estate and manufacturing also contribute to Connecticut’s impressive revenue.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, ranked 38th in the nation. It come in fifth in public school spending and almost 39 percent of its adult residents have acquired at least a bachelor’s degree, making it the fourth highest ranking state in that regard.

4. New Jersey

New Jersey ranks 46th in total area but has the fourth highest median household income in the country, at $72,222. Approximal 9 million residents make New Jersey the 11th-most populous state, and the most densely populated state.

New Jersey’s economy is diverse, including the financial industry, food processing, and the manufacturing of electric equipment. Its vibrant scientific economy is driven by significant activity in the pharmaceutical industry, chemical development, and telecommunications.

The state’s unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, for a national ranking of 38th. New Jersey employers can count on a large and well-educated labor pool. Public school spending is $16,337 per pupil, the 6th highest in the nation. 39 percent of New Jersey’s adult residents have acquired at least a bachelor’s degree.

3. Alaska

Some would say the United States got a bargain when, in 1867, it purchased Alaska from Russia at a price of two cents per acre. Alaska is the largest state by area and has a population of only 739,795 but it is now the third wealthiest state in the country.

More than 80 percent of the state's revenues comes from petroleum extraction, and the export of seafood, such as salmon, cod, and crab, accounts for a significant part of the remainder. Alaska has the lowest population density of the 50 states, at only 1.26 people per sq mi.

With a 6.5 percent unemployment rate, Alaska ranks dead last among the 50 states. Perhaps contradicting that statistic, Alaska is ranked second highest in public school spending, shelling out $20,640 per pupil. Around 30 percent of adult Alaskans go on to obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.

2. Hawaii

With the country’s second highest median household income, $73,486, Hawaii has become a paradise for those seeking an affluent lifestyle. This Pacific island state is the only US state located outside North America. Hawaii is the 8th-smallest state by area and ranks 39th in population, with 1.42 million people. But it’s the 13th-most densely populated state.

Tourism has always been Hawaii’s largest industry, accounting for over a quarter of the total gross state product, thanks to Hawaii's warm climate, tropical scenery, and beautiful beaches. Despite efforts to diversify its economy, extreme shipping distances create problems in moving Hawaii’s main exports of coffee, macadamia nuts, and pineapple. Another major industry in Hawaii is defense, with the islands hosting more than 75,000 U.S. Department of Defense personnel.

The state’s unemployment rate ranks number one in the country, calculated at a miniscule 2.2 percent. Hawaiian public schools spend $13,436 per pupil, positioning the state as the 16th highest using that measure.

1. Maryland

Maryland households are currently the wealthiest in the country, with a median income of $75,847.

Located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, Maryland is one of the smallest states. It ranks 42nd in total area, covering just 12,407 sq mi. It’s the 19th most populous state with just over 6 million residents, and it’s population density ranks fifth in the nation at 619 people per sq mi.

Being close to the country’s hub of federal government in Washington, D.C., Maryland owes much of its prosperity to large-scale employment of the technical and administrative personnel associated with the government, the defense and aerospace industries, and major bio-research laboratories.

The state's unemployment rate is 4.2 percent. It is the third highest ranked state in the country when counting adults with at least a bachelor’s degree—over 39 percent of adult Maryland residents achieve that educational milestone. Maryland come in 19th in public school spending, allowing $13,075 per pupil.