Some people are lucky enough to have a job that’s not tied to a location, but many move across state borders in hopes of finding more rewarding opportunities. Other wage earners relocate to be nearer family or friends, for school, or just for a welcome change. Regardless of the reason, the decision to settle down somewhere new can affect your financial prospects.
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Using data supplied by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, we zeroed in on the 10 states with the lowest average per capita income in 2012. We then searched for additional data that would provide useful context. (Try this comparison calculator to get an idea of the cost of living in select metropolitan areas.)
Unemployment rates by state for 2012, courtesy of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, are indicative of the health of the local labor market. The estimated annual cost of owning a car, with figures supplied by Bankrate that include relevant taxes, fees, repairs costs, and gasoline prices for 2012 and average insurance rates for the 2006-2010 period, suggests how far a dollar will go in a given state. For tax rates we turned to the Tax Foundation, which reports the combined burden of state and local levies in 2010.
The 10 states listed below are rank ordered, starting with the lowest average per capita 2012 income. The average 2012 unemployment rate, the estimated annual cost of owning a car, and the combined state and local tax burden are also noted, each followed by a number in parentheses indicating the state’s relative position among the 50 states, from highest to lowest.