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How Moving to Another State Could Drastically Change Your Income How Moving to Another State Could Drastically Change Your Income

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How Moving to Another State Could Drastically Change Your Income

North Dakota's income increased the most in 2012, while South Dakota was the only state to decline.


A derrick hand for Raven Drilling works on an oil rig outside Watford City, N.D.(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

All incomes are not created equal.

The value of a person's salary often depends on which state they're living in. For instance, a $40,000 income in Iowa—where the cost of living is lower—is worth more than a $40,000 income in Hawaii.


So the Commerce Department adjusted wealth by state, taking residents' income and cost of living, and adjusting for regional price estimates for goods and services. It's called the Real Personal Income metric.

This tool, the Commerce Department says, can help people who are looking to move compare incomes and cost of living across states, taking into account inflation and regional prices.

Overall, real personal income across the country rose on average 2.3 percent in 2012 from the previous year.


The tool also shows what moving across your state's border could mean for the value of your income. In 2012, South Dakota's real personal income declined 1.2 percent, making it the worst state by this metric. By comparison, North Dakota's real personal income increased 15.1 percent, making it the most-improved state—an effect of the booming oil industry there.

Looking at all 50 states and the District of Columbia, here are the largest and smallest gains for real personal income from 2011 to 2012.

Largest Growth

North Dakota – 15.1 percent (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Montana – 3.7 percent (Flickr/martinlabar)

Indiana – 3.7 percent Downtown Indianapolis (Flickr/ifmuth)

California – 3.4 percent (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mississippi – 3.4 percent Oxford, Mississippi - William Faulkner's Rowan Oak (Flickr/ugardener)

Smallest Growth

South Dakota – Negative 1.2 percent (Flickr/petechar)

Maine – 0.3 percent Portland, Maine (Flickr/coreytempleton)

District of Columbia – 0.4 percent H Street NE (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

Alaska – 0.7 percent Iditarod race in Wasilla, Alaska (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Alabama – 0.8 percentBirmingham, Alabama (Flickr/bz3rk)

The economies of different states are growing. But as this list shows, the costs of living in those states could make them less affordable than others.

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