This Is How Much A Living Wage Is In Each State

We mapped how much it actually costs to live in each state.

If you live in the U.S., you know this place is expensive. And super affordable. And somewhere in the middle.

The point we’re trying to make here is, depending on where exactly you live in the U.S., your cost of living can be sky high or as low as dirt. After all, this is the melting pot of the world—why wouldn’t the cost of living—and therefore, the living wage—vary just as much as the folks who make up this country?

So to clear this up a little bit, we’ve done a little digging. We researched the Living Wage for each state in the U.S., and mapped it out. Because pictures make everything easier.

And just to be clear, the Living Wage we’re talking about here is how much it will cost you (annually) to actually live in each state; more specifically—the income needed to support two adults and one kiddo. In order to determine this, we used MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, which can be found here.

You can access an image of the map here.

Now normally, here’s the point where we go over each place ranked and tell you a little something. But since this time around, we are looking at all 50 states, we figure looking at the top five highest and top five lowest living wages in more detail should suffice. After all, you wouldn’t want to read 50 different detailed descriptions—you could be out makin’ that green. (Money.)

Top five highest living wages in the U.S.

1. Washington, D.C.

If you didn’t see the nation’s capital coming in on this list, well, you’ve never lived in D.C. Residents here need to pull in a whopping $67,867 per year just to afford life in the city. Of course, that’s generally not a problem, considering the demographic Washington D.C. attracts (upper middle class politicians, government workers, lawyers, lobbyists, etc.)

And if you can’t quite swing a nearly $68,000 salary, don’t worry—D.C. has tons of suburbs, which are… at least a little cheaper.

2. Hawaii

Island life certainly comes at a price, and in this case, that price is about $60,000 per year. So why is Hawaii so expensive? You know, aside from the breathtaking beaches, the laid back, slowed-down way of living, the dream-worthy weather, and the beautiful people and culture? It is an island. Mainland imports are expensive, bruh.

3. Massachusetts

The next three states may not surprise you; after all, they are in the northeast, the most expensive and wealthy region of the country. Massachusetts in particular, though, requires a pretty high living wage just to make ends meet: $59,560. Of course if you don’t have a partner and a child (which is what we calculated this to include), you may be able to get by on less. (A good thing, because last we checked, the median income in the state was less than this living wage!)

4. Connecticut

Connecticut is known as the Land of Steady Habits—and we can’t help but applaud this nickname, especially if those steady habits include making and spending money like it’s nutmeg. (Also known as the Nutmeg State. See what we did there?)

The living wage in Connecticut was the fourth highest at $59,502.

5. New York

Yes, yes, we all know that living in New York City is exorbitantly expensive. But what about the state as a whole? It couldn’t possibly be too bad…

Nope, it is. It really is. The living wage in New York is $59,128. So start saving!

Five states with the lowest living wage in the U.S.

1. Idaho

We know what you’re thinking—why on earth is Idaho on this list? Surely everyone wants to live in Idaho, amiright?!

Just kidding. The people who live in Idaho don’t even usually want to live in Idaho. (No offense.) This is exactly why the living wage here is so low—just $45,801. But that’s not as low as it gets…

2. South Dakota

In South Dakota the living wage is just $45,410. Why? Because no one lives here! Seriously, South Dakota is the fifth least populated state in the country. And unlike the minimally-populated D.C.—which is densely-packed and highly desirable—South Dakota is… sparse. There’s just not a whole lot going on here.

3. West Virginia

Ah, West Virginia! The Mountain State. Home to some of the most beautiful nature in our country. The birthplace of Mother’s Day. The very southernmost northern state and the northernmost southern state. Also—apparently the land of one of the third lowest living wage in the country: Just $44,823.

4. Arkansas

Second in the running for lowest living wage in the country—Arkansas. The living wage here for two adults and a kiddo is just $44,571. Of course this could be higher—or lower—depending on your needs, or even where in the state you live. But overall, we’d say it’s pretty darn affordable.

5. Kentucky

Last but not least (okay, actually it is least, as in the least amount of money for a living wage), is Kentucky. The Bluegrass State has a living wage of just $43,308. And if you’re looking at the map and seeing a pattern (the South = lower living wages, West Coast = higher, Northeast = highest), you are correct. And can read a map.

All Over the Map

Depending on where you are in this vast and varied country, your living wage could be all over the map. So, it’s a good thing that we created one, so you know which state best fits your needs.

Living Wage By State (Highest to Lowest)

2 - Hawaii
10 - Alaska
15 - Nevada
17 - Florida
19 - Vermont
20 - Oregon
21 - Arizona
22 - Maine
27 - Iowa
29 - Texas
31 - Kansas
34 - Wyoming
35 - Georgia
36 - Utah
37 - Montana
38 - Indiana
45 - Ohio
46 - Alabama
47 - Idaho

About Zippia

Zippia is the career expert site, where recent college graduates can study the pathways of previous graduates to learn about which career routes they want to pursue. Career job data can be found on https://www.zippia.com/colleges-and-majors/.