Do you live in one of them? Discover the states with the lowest wages in the U.S.

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The cost of living in the United States has been on the rise in recent months, however, this depends on the particularities of each state, as the level of income varies significantly. Therefore, which are the states with the lowest average wages?

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary in the United States is about $48,080. However, more than ten states have an average salary well below these figures.

A total of thirteen states have an average income below $45,000, and within these figures, three states are below $40,000, with the majority located in the southern part of the country.

Which are the three states with incomes below $40,000?

The states that rank with the lowest wages in the United States include:

StatesAverage Annual Income (dollars)
West Virginia$39,770

What other states are below the average U.S. wage rate?

The states with an average income below $45,000 include:

StatesAverage Annual Income (dollars)
South Carolina$42,220
New Mexico$43,620
South Dakota$43,680

What accounts for these low income figures across the United States?

These statistics are influenced by cultural factors, as is the case with the three states with the lowest income in the entire United States, where the low rate of professional training compared to the rest of the country, according to official U.S. economic research data, plays a role.

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Additionally, other states included in this list of low salaries have certain characteristics that lead to lower income figures, such as poverty rates, cost of living index, and unemployment levels, factors evaluated as a result of community studies.

Besides Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia, as the three states with the worst incomes due to the low level of education as indicated by economic data, the states of Oklahoma, Nevada, Kentucky, and Alabama also have lower rates of professional education compared to other states in the country, which consequently affects these average wage figures.

As noted, another element to consider is the cost of living. For example, the three states with the lowest economic incomes, Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia, had indices of 86.3, 89, and 87.7 respectively at the end of 2023, placing them among the top seven states with the lowest cost of living in the United States.

Oklahoma ranks first among the states with the lowest cost of living with an index of 86.2, a factor consistent with being included on the list of states with lower income figures, as does Alabama in fifth place (88.3) and Tennessee in eighth (90.3).

However, states like New Mexico, South Carolina, Idaho, and Nevada rank above the 20th place with cost of living indices of 94, 95.3, 98.6, and 101 respectively, figures that show a discrepancy as these are states with economic income levels below the average U.S. figure.

While the cost of living in the country is increasing, income levels in each state—in many cases—align with the specific needs and costs of the area, while in others, the cost of living exceeds the basic economy.

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Haymé Santoya Rodríguez

Licenciada en Historia del Arte por la Universidad de Oriente. Investigadora en Casa de la Nacionalidad Cubana. Se especializa en estudios sobre artes visuales y cine cubano. Ha realizado trabajos de curaduría de arte así como conferencias, presentaciones de libros, conversatorios y disertaciones sobre su especialización. Se ha vinculado al periodismo digital desde el 2018.