Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Highest Wages in East, Lowest in South

WASHINGTON— Americans have been migrating south and west for decades, but it appears they've been leaving some high-paying jobs behind. While there are many pockets of wealth in the South and West, the states with the highest wage earners line the East Coast, according to Census data released Tuesday.

Connecticut, with a median household income of $56,409, supplanted New Jersey as the country's highest wage state in 2003, the most recent year available. New Jersey slid to second, at $56,356, followed by Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Mississippi had the lowest median income, at $32,397. West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Montana rounded out the bottom five.

The median household income for the nation was $43,318.

Census figures show that Southern and Western states have been growing in population much faster than those in the Northeast and Midwest.

But despite those population shifts, the list of wealthiest - and poorest - states in 2003 looks a lot like the list from a decade before.

"You're going to see those areas - Mississippi, Appalachia - those are just characteristically, throughout history, poorer areas," said David Waddington, chief of the Census Bureau's small area estimates branch.

The wage gap among counties was even more pronounced than the one for states.

Los Alamos County in New Mexico, home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, had the nation's highest median income, at $93,089. It was followed by Douglas County in Colorado and Loudoun County in northern Virginia.

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