Overall, incomes are on the rise in the US.
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey — an annual survey that measures various economic, social, and housing data among US residents — the country as a whole saw a 2% increase in inflation-adjusted median household income from 2015 to 2016.
Broken down by state, between 2015 and 2016, 42 states showed an increase in real median household income adjusted for inflation, while seven states and the District of Columbia saw declines, and one state — Oklahoma — saw no change.
Idaho saw the strongest growth with a 6% pay increase, likely thanks to its booming job growth last year — the state had the largest over-the-year employment increase in the US for several months in 2016. Generally, increased competition among employers to find qualified employees pushes income levels upwards.
“Part of it is that people are choosing to relocate to Idaho for jobs. The inertia of job growth has just been phenomenal for the past two years,” Craig Shaul, a research analyst supervisor for the Idaho Department of Labour, told local newspaper The Spokesman Review. Unsurprisingly, with a growing population and need for housing, construction jobs have been leading the charge in Idaho for several months.
On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana saw the largest percentage decrease in wages with a 2.1% decline. The state, which in 2014 was home to 19 oil refineries and had the capacity to produce the second most oil in the US, has been hit hard over the years by the extended oil price downturn. One Louisiana refinery closed in 2016, and the downturn resulted in massive layoffs across the industry.
In 2016, Lafayette County, Louisiana — one of the largest counties in the state — saw the biggest job losses of any county in the US, a continuance of the downward trend that began in 2014 thanks to lower oil and gas prices.
In 2016, the state also saw a significant (-1.2 percentage points) over-the-year decrease in its employment to population ratio, and it had a 6.1% unemployment rate (where the national unemployment rate was 4.9%).
Other states that saw the largest percentage wage declines — North Dakota and Wyoming — faced a similar fate thanks to their heavily oil-dependent economies.
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