Photo: Annie Mole via Flickr
Things are tough all over, right?Well, not really.
While the job market is still pretty weak, the truth is that conditions vary greatly from state to state. For example, in February 2011, the unemployment rate was 13.6 per cent in Nevada, but only 3.7 per cent in North Dakota.
On top of that MoneyRates found significant differences in a number of other job-related factors. It analysed all of them and created a list of the best states for making a living.
Here are the top 10 states for making a living >>
MoneyRates.com looked at four factors involved in making a living:
- Average state wages
- State unemployment rate
- State tax rate
- State cost of living
Based on all these factors, MoneyRates.com calculated an adjusted-average income for each state – the average income adjusted for your chances of finding a job, how much you would lose to state taxes, and how much purchasing power that income would have based on the cost of living in that state. A ranking of these adjusted-average incomes is the basis for the following list of the top 10 states for making a living.
Rounding out the top 10 is Minnesota, a state with relatively high average wages and below-average unemployment.
These factors contribute to Minnesota's adjusted-average income of $37,721.99.
A very low cost of living helps Tennessee overcome relatively low wage levels, and because the state's taxes don't apply to wages, you'll get to keep more of what you make. Tennessee's adjusted-average income came in at $38,038.27.
A combination of a low cost of living and solid average wages help Georgia make the list with an adjusted-average income of $38,228.47. This is another state where you can take great care of your money once you earn it, with four of the MoneyRates.com best banks in America having branches in Georgia.
The high cost of living in Massachusetts is counterbalanced by the highest average wage levels of any state, helping Massachusetts rank sixth with an adjusted-average income of $38,664.86.
While the adjusted-average incomes of the top four states were bunched quite closely, Delaware's is a clear step back at $39,104.64. Still, this is good enough to rank fifth, largely on the strength of Delaware's high average wages.
The adjusted-average income for Virginia worked out to $41,120.49, helped by high average wages and a relatively low unemployment rate. This is also a good state for your checking accounts, savings accounts, or money market accounts, with four of the best banks identified by MoneyRates.com operating in Virginia.
Texas is another state with no income tax, and along with a relatively low cost of living and unemployment rate, this gives Texas a good adjusted-average income - at $41,427.12, it's just a little behind Washington's.
The adjusted-average income here was $41,455.73. The cost of living may be above average, but so is the typical income, and with no state income tax, you'll get to keep more of what you earn.
At $41,986.51, Illinois had the best adjusted-average income. The unemployment rate in Illinois is not especially low, but the state benefits from relatively high average wages, a low state tax rate, and a below-average cost of living.
As an added plus, you can make good use of your money once you earn it in Illinois. Four of the best banks in America, based on a MoneyRates.com analysis of factors like customer service, checking account fees, and savings and money market rates, have operations in Illinois.
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