WalletHub, Income Disparities

Virginia Ranks Highest Income In U.S. For 2024

A 2024 WalletHub study highlights income disparities across the U.S., with Virginia leading in high incomes and West Virginia ranking the lowest.

A 2024 study conducted by WalletHub has revealed the states where people have the highest income. 

The personal finance website compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across the following top metrics: “The average annual income of the top 5%, the average for the bottom 20%, and the median for all residents of each state,” Fox 5 Atlanta reported. The study found that Virginia residents are the highest-earning individuals in the nation.

“Virginia tops the list for highest income when balancing the median, top 5%, and bottom 20% of earners,” per the report. With the average top 5% in the state bringing home an average annual income of $518,296 and the bottom 20% making an average of $18,694, both numbers are the third-highest across the country. The median annual income in Virginia is $89,393, ranked as the 17th-highest in the country. 

Those living in the state dubbed as the home for lovers typically work in Washington, D.C., and tend to live in the northern region of the state in Fairfax County, where the average salary sits above $100,000. 

With a thriving business community, Northern Virginia is home to defense contractors, including Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and RTX Corporation. Moreover, Loudoun County houses “the world’s largest and fastest-growing data center hub,” featuring heavy industry leaders like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Salesforce, and Verizon Business.

The second state with the highest average income is New Jersey, where factors like low, high, and median earnings are at play. The top 5% of the state’s residents earn an annual average salary of $505,621. The median income, the sixth-highest, is $117,847. 

Conversely, residents in the bottom 20% earn an average income of $16,445 per year, the 21st highest in the country. Situated between two prominent U.S. cities, New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey’s high state incomes make perfect sense, especially considering that New York ranks third-highest in the nation for income.

The average income per year for the Big Apple’s top 5% of earners is $553,435, the highest in America. Unfortunately, on the other side, the bottom 20% of earners ranks 44th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an annual average income of $13,301. 

New York’s high ranking is explained by its high-income bracket receiving more weight than the low-income bracket. Thanks to the boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, and Brooklyn, New York City has the highest income gaps in the country, with the city of Manhattan holding the highest reported income gap. 

Other states with high earners include Connecticut, Washington, Utah, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, and Massachusetts, ranked 10th. Coming in at the low end of earners are Kentucky, Alaska, Alabama, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Vermont, Maine, Mississippi, and New Mexico, and last on the list of low-earning states is West Virginia. 

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