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The 10 Richest States in the USA

Matt McIntyre

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The 10 Richest States in the USA

What are the richest states in the USA?

We’ve researched a broad selection of data to put together this list, from the highest median household income to the state’s GDP per capita, as well as considering data on poverty and education.

The richest states have earned their wealth from a diverse range of industries, with agriculture, manufacturing, and high technology all playing a role in how these places have evolved over time.

 

The 10 Richest States in the USA

Our ranked lists are created by researching and rounding up information from the most reputable web sources.

Here’s our list of the 10 richest states in the USA:

 

10. Illinois

Richest States - Illinois

GDP per Capita: $69,667

The 10th richest state, Illinois, has sometimes been likened to a microcosm of America at large, with a diverse array of industries including manufacturing, mining, financial institutions, technology, and agriculture.

Its main natural resource is the black soil in which Illinoisan farmers grow soybeans and corn, while the state also has a reputation for producing high-quality dairy products and livestock.

With high levels of coal reserves, the tenth-richest state in the country is able to power a wide range of industries, including food products, computers, and electronics, rubber, fabricated metals, and chemicals.

It’s also one of the top producers of nonelectrical machinery, with these products accounting for its largest share of foreign exports, manufactured at industrial parks which are located throughout the state.

Much of the economic activity found in Illinois comes from Chicago, whether this is in car production and the Amtrak commuter rail system, or the various financial institutions, including the Chicago Stock Exchange.

Despite the devastating fire of 1871, Chicago, and the state of Illinois, have continued to boom over the years, and are perhaps most famous (or infamous) historically for giving rise to Prohibition-era bootleggers and gangsters, including Al Capone.

 

9. North Dakota

Richest States - North Dakota

GDP per Capita: $70,185

Admitted to the union in 1889 as the 39th state, North Dakota takes its name from the Native American Sioux and has a GDP per capita of $70,185 and a median income of $70,185.

Traditionally deriving the bulk of its income from fossil fuels and agriculture, North Dakota’s economy underwent an overhaul toward the end of the twentieth century, with services such as call centers, travel agencies, and financial corporations coming to dominate the state’s gross domestic product.

While agriculture has been drawn back in recent years, North Dakotan farms still produce a range of grains, such as canola, along with wheat, flaxseed, corn, and sugar beets, which are cultivated for export.

The state’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in America, and residents enjoy high levels of health care alongside low levels of crime.

High-tech industry can also be found in North Dakota, with both Microsoft and Amazon facilities in the city of Fargo employing thousands of workers, giving the state a diverse overall economic foundation.

While traditional fossil fuels have fallen out of favor in recent decades, North Dakota’s Great Plains region has been labeled by some as “the Saudi Arabia of wind energy,” with this renewable energy source receiving significant investment from green energy startups.

 

8. Maryland

Richest States - Maryland

GDP per Capita: $70,500

Maryland median household income data, which sits around $84,000, makes this one of the richest states in America, with the port of Baltimore handling a huge variety of raw materials and other bulk commodities.

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While service industries employ the highest number of citizens, Maryland also boasts major manufacturing, with metals, electronic equipment, chemicals, and food products all made within its boundaries.

Perhaps the most unique product from Maryland is crabs, hauled off the state’s coast along with perch, flounder, and shellfish, such as oysters.

According to the 2013 U.S. census bureau data, Maryland boasted the highest median household income in the country, also featuring the most millionaires per capita in the same year.

Many of the high-paying jobs in Maryland are in the biotechnology sector, with hundreds of companies in this field found in the state, taking advantage of the higher education facilities and links to public sector institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health.

It’s also a popular destination for tourists, with a number of beach resort towns adding to the state’s overall job market and contributing to the overall low unemployment rate.

 

7. New Jersey

Richest States - New Jersey

GDP per Capita: $70,501

One of the original 13 states of America and bordered by New York, New Jersey is one of the smallest states in the country. Nevertheless, it packs a punch when it comes to median income data and GDP per capita.

Like many of the wealthiest states in America, New Jersey’s economy comes from a range of sources, with high-tech industries including biotech, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and finance dominating the labor statistics.

In addition to the extensive variety of technology-based industries, New Jersey also delivers agricultural products, which range from fruits and nuts to seafood and dairy.

New Jersey is dominated by forests, so it makes sense that the principal natural resources in New Jersey are drawn from here, with pine forestry supplemented with zinc, iron, and manganese mining.

With the New Jersey median household income hitting over $85,000, its wealth is well above the national average, which is reflected in the high average home value. 

As well as being one of the wealthiest states in America, New Jersey enjoys some of the lowest poverty rates in the country, with the poverty rate data for all age groups sitting around 10%.

 

6. Delaware

Richest States - Delaware

GDP per Capita: $77,214

America’s first state ratified under the Constitution, Delaware has a GDP of $77,214 and an annual median household income of $64,805 in 2020, making it one of the richest states in the country.

The U.S. Census Bureau data reveals the low population of Delaware, with employment split between public sector work in government institutions, banking, farming, and education and health services.

Major corporations, such as DuPont, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and AstraZeneca all have manufacturing bases in Delaware, with its location on the Eastern Seaboard allowing for easy access to a number of major metropolitan areas, including Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

Much of the population of Delaware reside in New Castle County, where they were drawn to employment in the chemical industry in the post-war period, and where continued investment from leading science firms has ensured its continuing economic health.

Longstanding agriculture, including corn, soybeans, vegetables, and a selection of fish, clams, and crabs, further contribute to Delaware’s annual median household income, along with significant levels of poultry production.

Due to its uniquely liberal incorporation laws, Delaware is home to thousands of U.S. and foreign corporations, with more than three-fifths of companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange incorporated in the state.

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5. California

Richest States - California

GDP per Capita: $78,771

The most populous state in the nation, California is known worldwide for its entertainment industry, with many of its highest-paying jobs — and richest celebrity couples — found in Hollywood and the surrounding area.

Since this is the most populous state, high levels of employment are in education and health services, while labor statistics indicate large segments of the population also work in construction, agriculture, and tech.

California’s Silicon Valley hosts many of the world’s major tech and social media companies, with organizations including Apple, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and PayPal all employing people in large numbers.

There’s also a thriving economy based around travel and tourism, bringing in well over $1 billion according to 2019 data while providing jobs for over 1 million of California’s population and contributing to its status as one of the wealthiest states in the nation.

With a state GDP of $3,120,386,000 and a median income of $80,440, California has considerable wealth among its population, as well as some of the highest overall salaries in the world.

Despite its overall high average household median income, unemployment rate and poverty rate data in some areas of California are staggeringly high, with many residents lacking basic health care despite living alongside some of the richest people in the world.

 

4. Connecticut

Richest States - Connecticut

GDP per Capita: $79,824

In 2019, Connecticut boasted the highest median household income of any state. Its slide to fourth place after just two years is a good indication of how fluid the list of richest states can be.

Connecticut’s high-quality education establishments, including the prestigious Yale University, contribute to the qualifications needed for the state’s high-paying jobs in financial services and insurance.

While banking and real estate dominate the workforce, the state still has remnants of its once-thriving agricultural sector in place, notably with livestock and animal rearing, as well as shade-grown tobacco, exported for cigar wrappers.

Connecticut’s manufacturing base has also declined, and where there were once businesses producing pins, clocks, and sewing machines, there are now high technology companies.

While finance, insurance, and real estate bring in the majority of Connecticut’s income (generating $75.7 billion in GDP in 2018), the state has close ties to various weapons manufacturers, with Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics among the companies making military hardware.

Secondary industries which help make Connecticut one of the richest states in the country include construction, retail, art and entertainment, and information services, with education and health services also contributing over 300,000 jobs.

 

3. Washington

Richest States - Washington

GDP per Capita: $81,059

The third richest state in the country, Washington, is located on the upper east coast and takes its name from George Washington, the first President of the United States.

While many people associate California with American wine, Washington farmers are among the country’s largest wine producers, while also growing pears and cranberries in addition to wine grapes.

Washington’s status as the third richest state was built largely on agriculture, with the growth of lentils, dry peas, barley, and a range of vegetables earning much of its early wealth.

There’s also a significant forestry industry, with approximately three-fourths of the land used for commercial timber, with the remaining held as national forests and national parks for the purposes of preservation.

Some of the country’s largest corporations, including Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon, have a firm presence that contributes to the state’s overall median income.

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Washington’s unemployment rate and poverty rate are below the national average, while on the other end of the income spectrum, the third richest state is home to billionaires, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. (Jeff Bezos’ net worth alone indicates just how large his economic contribution is to the state.)

 

2. Massachusetts

Richest States - Massachusetts

GDP per Capita: $85,400

The second-richest state in the country, Massachusetts, is also one of the oldest and played a significant role in the founding of America’s core principles of freedom and liberty.

Since the early settlers determined the course of the country, Massachusetts has developed from a thriving agricultural land to heavy manufacturing and, presently, a center for technology and research, and development.

The history of Massachusetts and its economy is deeply connected to the sea, with its maritime industry once second to none, a key player in the whaling boom of the nineteenth century.

Many of the state’s millionaires and billionaires earned their wealth through the biotechnology and financial sectors, with Massachusetts also a major national hub for venture capital investment.

Significant segments of the population are employed in health care, manufacturing, and tourism, the latter of which has undergone a significant boom in recent years, with Boston and Cape Cod popular vacation destinations.

Current data shows Massachusetts’s median household income at over $80,000, comparable to the median income of the other richest states in the country.

 

1. New York

Richest States - New York

GDP per Capita: $88,349

The fourth most populous state in the country, and the richest state based on median household income and GDP per capita, is New York, home to some of the richest people in the world, from high profile celebrities to billionaire hedge fund managers.

New York has dozens of higher education institutions, with many in its population holding bachelor’s degrees and forming much of the workforce on Wall Street, media and entertainment, and New York’s tech sector.

Numerous digital media companies are based in New York City’s Silicon Alley, including Squarespace, Spotify, and Behance while leading hardware technology firms such as IBM, Huawei, and LG Electronics add to the state’s diverse workforce.

As you’d expect, the iconic New York City (known affectionately as “The Big Apple”) is a hugely popular tourist destination, its iconic skyscrapers and other attractions bringing in millions of visitors each year.

While New York is the richest state in the country, with among the highest median household income, this doesn’t translate to the lowest poverty rates, which have consistently soared above the national average.

 

Summary

The history and economics of the richest states in America demonstrate the ever-changing dynamics of the industries and services which shape a nation’s fortune.

Where manufacturing and farming once dominated, new industries reflecting the shift into a digital age have emerged, reflecting a country, and a world, moving swiftly with the times.

Looking to the future, the richest states in America will continue to evolve, as new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, continue to drive progress and innovation.

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 richest states in the USA:

  1. New York: $88,349
  2. Massachusetts: $85,400
  3. Washington: $81,059
  4. Connecticut: $79,824
  5. California: $78,771
  6. Delaware: $77,214
  7. New Jersey: $70,501
  8. Maryland: $70,500
  9. North Dakota: $70,185
  10. Illinois: $69,667

Which one of the richest states in the USA is your favorite? Leave a comment below.

Matt McIntyre is a digital marketing consultant and certified marketing strategist. When he's not talking about business or marketing, you'll find him in the gym.

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