The Average US Salary By State: A Comparative Breakdown

Living and working in the US can differ greatly from one state to another. What might be a great salary in central US, might not pay your bills in the coastal regions of the country. We looked into the average salary that you can expect to earn in each state, and where you can expect to earn more based on your skills and expertise. 

What you do have to keep in mind is the cost of living in each area. For example, the highest national average of earnings can be found in Massachusetts, with Connecticut coming in second across most job titles. Their cost of living, however, falls in the top ten states in the US though, with Massachusetts coming in at number four and Connecticut falling in at eight. This will have a huge impact on the worth of the salary earnings. The highest cost of living can be found in Hawaii, California and New York respectively.  

Below is a breakdown of earnings per state. We took a look at the average earnings for Marketing Managers, Graphic Designers and Web and System Developers to compare each average earning per state. 

Average Salary Vs. Cost of Living 

Let’s delve a little more into the data. As mentioned previously, cost of living in the state is incredibly important to keep in mind when looking at the average salaries. For example, Hawaii has been ranked as the most expensive state to live in of all of the US states. So, even though the salaries are mid-range compared to most states, Hawaii’s worth, after being adjusted for living in the state ranks either last, or second last for each job title. 

In some cases, because the cost of living is much lower in the state, they will rank much higher for quality of life. Marketing Managers in Pennsylvania, for example, despite earning less than their peers in New York and New Jersey, when considering the cost of life, they come out at the top of the list. 

Lowest Earning States

Although the data does show that there are vast differences between what each job title earns from state to state, there are a few states that perpetually show a much lower income across professions to others. These all seem to be landlocked states, situated in central USA. You can expect to earn less in: 

  • Mississippi; 
  • West Virginia; 
  • Montana; 
  • Oklahoma; 
  • North Dakota. 

Highest Earning States 

Coastal states, on both the west and east coast of the US seem to dominate in earnings, and there seems to be a definite trend in states like California, New York and New Jersey topping the rankings salary-wise. Virginia, Connecticut and Maryland also feature in the top ten across all professions. However, when it comes to cost of living, most of the states drop in ranking significantly. 

New York and California each take the hardest knock when you consider the cost of living compared to the average salary. In fact, in most cases, when adjusting the salary to the cost of living in both cases, each comes in below the top ten.  

Last Thoughts ...

When looking for a new job, it is important to keep these differences in mind. If you plan on moving state and working for a different company across the country, you will need to do your research first. You need to understand what your peers are earning in the other state, and adjust your salary expectations accordingly. Once you have this information, you can create a profile on a platform like Wanted, list your skills and experience and indicate your desired salary. Companies can then choose to interview you if they can afford you and think that your expectations are reasonable. If you are above their budget, it will just reduce unnecessary time and energy spent on a candidate that they cannot afford.