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America's wealthiest (and poorest) states

By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New Hampshire is the state with the highest median income in the nation, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

The median household income in New Hampshire averaged a cool $65,028 annually over the past two years.

The top 10 wealthiest states
Where median income is highest
Rank State Median Income
1 New Hampshire $65,028
2 New Jersey $64,918
3 Connecticut $64,644
4 Maryland $63,828
5 Alaska $62,675
6 Virginia $61,126
7 Utah $60,396
8 Massachusetts $59,732
9 Hawaii $58,469
10 Washington $58,404
Source:U.S. Census Bureau
The bottom 10 poorest states
Where median incomes are lowest
Rank State Median Income
1 Mississippi $35,693
2 Arkansas $37,987
3 West Virginia $39,170
4 Tennessee $40,034
5 South Carolina $41,548
6 Montana $41,587
7 Kentucky $41,828
8 Alabama $42,144
9 North Carolina $42,337
10 Louisiana $42,423
Source:U.S. Census Bureau

In Mississippi, the average household earned a median of just $35,693 per year in 2008 and 2009, 45% less than New Hampshire households and the lowest income of any state.

Not surprisingly, it also had the highest poverty rate, with one in five households living under the poverty line.

Those statistics, released Thursday, also indicate that four of the wealthiest states were located in the Northeast and, along with Maryland and Virginia, form a tight cluster of wealth.

New Jersey had the second highest average median income, at $64,918 and Connecticut ($64,644) the third.

The South had nine of the lowest median income states with Arkansas ($37,987) and West Virginia ($39,170) closely trailing Mississippi.

Best Places to Live

Only 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, recorded income gains compared with their 2006 and 2007 averages.

Utah ran up the biggest score, $3,651 per household, a 6.4% improvement. North Dakota had the biggest percent rise, 7.6% to $49,759.

Compare cost of living in two cities

The nation's biggest loser was Hawaii, where median income plunged $6,811 to $58,469 during the two-year period. The loss lowered its ranking four places to ninth.

But Georgia's whopping 13.1% loss of $6,710 to $44,696, made it the biggest loser.

None of these statistics reflect regional or local cost differences, which can be immense. A $50,000 salary in Manchester N.H., for instance, is roughly equivalent to one of $38,000 in Tupelo, Miss.

A Mississippian earning $38,000 can live about as well as a New Yorker in pricey Manhattan with a salary of more than $93,000. To top of page

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