The States With the Highest Wages

While salaries have trended up in the past decade on a national level, there were large differences in the pace of those increases among states.

While some states posted gains above 50%, others saw gains by just 25%.

What’s worse, some of the poorest U.S. states have posted some of the lowest gains, meaning that the wealth gap is increasing.

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According to a report by Approve.com, U.S. salaries rose 35.01% between 2010 and 2020. In the past decade, the average salary went from $43,265 to $58.494.

Biggest Winners – Washington, California, North Dakota

The state with the biggest wage increase over the past decade was Washington. Since, 2010, wages increased by a whopping 58.28%.

California had the second-highest increase in salaries in the same period. Wages in the sunshine state increased by 49,16%.

Both Washington and California have a sizeable tech sector, which showed particularly strong performance in the past decade.

North Dakota was third, with a cumulative wage increase of 45.47%. The state used to be among those with the lowest average income. The rapid growth in salaries now put it in the middle of the national income distribution.

Much of the wage increase in North Dakota was due to the boom in fracking and oil.

Image from approve.com
Average annual income by state in 2020. Image from approve.com

Biggest Losers – Wyoming, Louisiana, Mississippi

Other states fared worse. Wyoming took last place, with the average salary up only 21.50% over the last decade.

Wages in Louisiana and Mississippi rose by 25.33%, 25.85% respectively.

Cumulative inflation over the same period was 25.80%. That means that the wage increases in these states were lower or just at the level of the national inflation.

Mississippi remained the state with the lowest annual income. Average wage was $34,343 in 2010 and $43,222 in 2020.

On the other hand, the average salary in Massachusetts was almost double, at $83,738 in 2020. Wages in Massachusetts rose by 44.95%, making it the state with the highest average earnings in the U.S.

Income Differences Increasing

It is no coincidence that some of the poorest states also posted the weakest salary gains. Income differences are rising, which translates to a regional level.

However, as the pandemic gave rise to more remote work opportunities, many workers may opt to move to states with lower living expenses.

This could help mitigate the trend and could boost average earnings in poorer states.

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