Variance in Wealth by US State

Variance in Income by US State - State Similarity Index

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on demographics. 10% of a state’s demographic score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index) is based on the income of its people. This includes median income as well as the percentage of millionaires and rate of poverty.


Massachusetts has the highest per capita income in the United States. Other states along the BosWash region also have relatively high incomes. In contrast, Mississippi has the lowest per capita income in the country, nearly half that of Massachusetts. States in the Southeast region tend to be less wealthy than the rest of the nation. These states have historically relied heavily on agriculture on less on technology or industry. Furthermore, their people tend to have less education on average.

Source: US Census Bureau

States were grouped by average per capita annual income in USD:
21,000-22,750, 22,750-24,500, 24,500-26,250, 26,250-28,000, 28,000-29,750, 29,750-31,500, 31,500-33,250, 33,250-35,000, 35,000-36,750, 36,750-38,500, 38,500-40,250

Poverty Rate

The gap can be quite large between the rich and the poor in the United States. Still, rates of poverty are highly correlated with income per capita. Therefore, Mississippi also has the highest poverty rate in the country, followed by Louisiana and New Mexico. On the other end of the spectrum, New Hampshire has the lowest poverty rate, although it has only the 8th highest per capita income. Although the income per capita in Massachusetts is the highest, its poverty rate is only the 9th lowest in the country.

Source: US Census Bureau

States were grouped by percentage of people living in poverty:
7.7-9.7, 9.7-11.7, 11.7-13.7, 13.7-15.7, 15.7-17.7, 17.7-19.7

Millionaire Rate

Maryland has the highest percentage of millionaires in the country at nearly 8%. The suburbs around the nation’s capital, Washington DC, are among the richest in the United States. There are many millionaires in Connecticut and New Jersey as well, where many wealthy people have their homes, but commute to New York. Once again, Mississippi has the lowest rate of millionaires in the country, but they are still 4% of their population. West Virginia and Arkansas also have relatively few millionaires.

Source: Wall Street Journal

States were grouped by percentage of millionaires:
4-4.66, 4.66-5.33, 5.33-6, 6-6.66, 6.66-7.33, 7.33-8

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