Also see the most recent Worst States to Make a Living feature
Trying to get ahead financially but just not making headway? Maybe it's not what you're doing, but where you live that's holding you back.
While the economy is generally in bad shape, some states have been particularly hard hit. If you're considering relocating, you want to make sure you don't simply trade one bad set of employment conditions for another. Also, what about other factors that will affect your standard of living, such as income levels, cost of living, and state tax rates?
MoneyRates.com has done a comprehensive analysis that takes into account the following factors that affect your ability to make a living:
- Average state wages
- State unemployment rate
- State tax rate
- State cost of living
Based on these factors, MoneyRates.com calculated an adjusted-average income for each state and ranked states against each other.
Here is the resulting list of the worst ten states for making a living:
10 worst states for making a living
No wonder there's so much crime on Hawaii Five-0! This is undoubtedly a great place to live for many reasons, but it is a tough place for making a living. An extremely high cost of living, coupled with a fairly high tax rate, give Hawaii the lowest adjusted-average income at $22,107.96. With this adjusted average income, Hawaii residents don’t have much to put into their savings accounts.
A combination of relatively low wages and an above-average cost of living give Maine the second-worst adjusted-average income, at $29,159.19.
With an adjusted-average income of $29,495.73, Montana makes the list primarily because of the state's low average wages.
This state's fiscal woes are well-known, and high taxes, high unemployment, and a high cost of living drag its adjusted-average income down to $29,772.40.
With an adjusted-average income of $29,985.60, Vermont is only slightly better than California. The state does have a fairly low unemployment rate, but relatively high state taxes and cost of living drag down its ranking.
Oregon suffers from an above-average rate of unemployment, and once residents find a job they have to contend with a high cost of living and a high state tax rate. This combination gives Oregon the sixth-worst adjusted-average income in the country, at $30,343.10.
7. Rhode Island
The cost of living, state taxes, and the unemployment rate are all higher than average in Rhode Island. Together, these factors are enough to drag above-average wage levels down to an adjusted-average income of $30,611.87.
The cost of living in Mississippi is cheaper than the average for the country as a whole, but unfortunately, the state's average wage levels are among the lowest in the country. The latter is enough to put Mississippi into the eight slot on this list, with an adjusted-average income of $30,952.90.
9. West Virginia
West Virginia's characteristics are similar to those of Mississippi - a low cost of living is not enough to make up for very low wage levels in the state. Wages are a little higher in West Virginia than in Mississippi, helping West Virginia's adjusted-average income to come in at a slightly better level of $31,357.15.
10. South Carolina
Rounding out the ten worst states for making a living is South Carolina, which suffers from a combination of below-average wages, above-average state taxes, and above-average unemployment. The cost of living is slightly cheaper than average in South Carolina, but that's not enough to prevent the state from making this list with an adjusted-average income of $31,636.27.
One of the beauties of living in a large and diverse country is the opportunity to improve your lot by pulling up stakes and relocating somewhere else. This list may help you decide whether your state is unusually challenging for making a living, and if so, which places you might want to avoid if you are thinking of moving to improve your career.
Doing everything right, and still not having success? Take a look at the 10 best states for making a living.
- Capital One 360
- Synchrony Bank
- Ally Bank
- CIT Bank
- Sallie Mae Bank
- American Express Bank, FSB
- Discover Bank
Minimum to earn APY $0
Rates as of 10/26/2016
Rates / APY terms above are current as of the date indicated. These quotes are from banks, credit unions and thrifts, some of which have paid for a link to their website. Bank, thrift and credit union deposits are insured by the FDIC or NCUA. Contact the bank for the terms and conditions that may apply to you. Rates are subject to change without notice and may not be the same at all branches.