The State Where Income Is Rising the Fastest

The median household income of Americans was $67,521 in 2020, a decline of 2.9%. While the figure has some value as a means to show how people in the United States are doing, it does not capture the far ends of the spectrum. About 11.4% of Americans lived in poverty in 2020. America is also home to over 700 billionaires.

Income is spread unevenly from state to state and city to city. Census data show that the median household income in Maryland was $84,805 last year, the highest among states. At the bottom of the list, Mississippi had a $45,081 median household income.

These income numbers are not static. As the country continues to be plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace of change in income by state has been uneven. When looked at over an extended period, changes are larger.

Real personal income per capita, a measure of annual earnings that is adjusted for inflation, climbed by 25.5% in the United States, from $42,287 in 2010 to $53,071 in 2020. Many potential factors drove up real personal income, not the least of which is wage growth outpacing inflation.

While every state reported an increase in real personal income per capita, incomes in some states climbed far faster than in others. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), 24/7 Wall St. identified the state where incomes are rising at a faster than average pace. The percentage growth in real personal income per capita from 2010 to 2020 was calculated with data from the BEA.

For most of the states we considered, rapidly rising real income per capita appears to be largely the result of a growing share of the population working. One main reason for the growing workforce participation has been strong job growth in many states in the past decade.

The state where incomes are rising the fastest is Utah. Here are the details:

  • 10-year personal income per capita growth: 39.0%
  • Personal income per capita: $48,052 (10th lowest)
  • 10-year employment growth: 29.6% (the highest)
  • 10-year real GDP growth: 36.6% (third highest)

Real personal income per capita climbed by 39% in Utah over the past decade, from $34,576 in 2010 to $48,052 in 2020. That was by far the largest percentage increase in the country. Increased workforce participation likely explains the surge in per capita income, as 47.1% of Utah’s population are employed, up from 42.8% in 2010, the largest increase of any state.

Greater labor participation came along with the strongest job growth in the country. Between 2010 and 2020, employment climbed by nearly 30% in Utah, triple the comparable 9.1% U.S. job growth. Over the same period, unemployment in Utah fell from 7.8% to 4.7%. Professional and business services and construction were the two fastest-growing industries by employment in the state during the period.

Data on personal income was adjusted from current dollars to constant 2012 dollars using the U.S. personal consumption expenditure price index and was adjusted for regional price differences using regional price parity in accordance with the methodology provided by the BEA. Supplemental data on gross domestic product also came from the BEA. Supplemental data on employment, employment by industry and seasonally adjusted unemployment came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on population and the components of population change from 2010 to 2020 came from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Click here to see in which 16 states income is rising fastest.

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