You Might Be Making More Money If You Lived Somewhere Else

Stuck in an economic rut? Maybe a move could give you a boost, says a new study, which found that the more economically mobile citizens of the U.S. live in places like New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. If you’re living in the South, well, that money ladder is harder to climb.

A study by the Pew Center on the States found that those living in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Utah had a better chance of climbing that economic ladder. The worst states to advance your fortunes were found to be Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

You could up your chances of grabbing a piece of that money pie just by moving, says the study — one-third of Americans who live in a different state from where they were born were more likely to be upwardly mobile.

The study drew from U.S. Census and Social Security data from around 65,000 people in all 50 states over a 10-year period. It analyzed three things — individuals’ earnings growth, that growth relative to others in their state and state-wide economic mobility growth compared to national averages.

“Where you live matters for your economic mobility prospects,” study author Erin Currier told ABC News, adding that the study didn’t look at why the states performed how they did, but that past research suggests that higher education, savings and assets, and neighborhood prosperity or poverty during childhood drive economic advancement.

Want More Money? Move to the Mid-Atlantic or New England, Study Finds [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. coffee100 says:

    You might be making more money if you didn’t get fired by your lying middle management jackass boss every three months.

    You might be making more money if companies employed managers who weren’t immature irresponsible crybabies who fire everyone if things don’t go their way.

    You might be making more money if companies were willing to hire the qualified applicant standing right in front of them instead of the name on a list 12,000 miles away because it’s cheaper.

    No, the solution, clearly, is to uproot everything, abandon your friends and family and throw yourself into the void, hoping you’ll land on a large enough pile of cash to avoid breaking your ass.

    • iesika says:

      I’m wondering if those people who move and then do better actually just do better because they were moving to take advantage of a better job offer.

    • Driblis says:

      Sounds like you had one problem with one boss, and yeah that sucks.

      This is about more than your one anecdotal issue and more about statistically significant inequities that affect millions of people.

      But go ahead and keep your smug feeling that you know better. I’m sure it serves you well and plays no part in your getting canned every three months.

  2. iesika says:

    This is exactly why I left Louisiana…

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      It’s also why I’m glad I no longer live in South Carolina. We kept the house we lived in for a long time, and sold it for 60% or so what we paid for it – back in 1987. South Carolina is a Third World shithole, and it’s been getting worse every year. I couldn’t imagine taking my BSCS down there and expecting to find a decent job.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.”

    All states I try very hard to avoid*

    *I’ll visit LA for Mardi Gras

    • AcctbyDay says:

      As a Texan I am mildly amused by the widespread dislike of the south. Texas is just like any other state, there are people in it who are sometime rude and sometimes kind. I normally experience more friendly behavior and hospitality in the south than in the north. I visit family in Wisconsin and it drives me nuts at how sarcastic and rude people are in general there.

      Then again maybe you have a reason for hating Texas, care to elaborate?

      • ZenListener says:

        I’ve lived in New Jersey for most of my life and have lived in Texas for about 10 years, now. I also wonder about the hatred for this state in particular.

        On the other hand, I’m also amazed at the assumption that everyone in New York City is rude and abusive (worked there for several years).

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Perhaps because Texas adopts every single regressive policy they can get their hands on, from “malpractice tort reform” to denying people rights, then claims that the policies are working despite every shred of data proving otherwise.

          • OutPastPluto says:

            California has Texas beat by 30 or 40 years when it comes to tort reform.

            Although that just makes the absurdity of it much more obvious.

            Nonsense is not just restricted to Texas or California.

      • Nate with shorter name says:

        I lived in Texas for two years and I travel a lot. I live in C And while Texas is a nice place it is very much not like any other state in the union.
        I would consider moving back but I like my weather better.

      • iamjustjules says:

        I’m surprised you find midwesterners rude. I always find them pretty charming and nice, even if it’s in a staged way. I’m a Virginian, who loves the south, but just can’t stand the thought of moving further south. Some states are like a fiefdom once you get outside of the major cit(y)ies.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        I concur. I am from the north but all of my social contacts from back home sound like a bunch of backwater red state religious rednecks. My southern contacts do not. States like Pennsylvania have no shortage of farmers putting up billboards with extreme religious messages. Whereas southerns states have perfectly sensible urban residents.

        My southern social circle is self selected and biased in favor of my profession. My northern social circle is my family and people I grew up with in a working class neighborhood and is not self-selected.

        Assumptions are funny things.

    • iesika says:

      That’s really a terrible idea. New Orleans isn’t very safe at the best of times, and Mardi Gras is definitely not the best of times (especially now that all the out-of-towners have fucked it up).

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Sounds like a win-win.

    • homehome says:

      What’s funny about those states is yea I’ll make less there, but when you add in the cost of living I’ll have more money left in my pocket living in the south. Yea, I’m in Maryland now, make more money, but I spend more money too. Which is why I’m going back south. What I find funny is that the ppl who diss the south the most have never lived there, visited maybe, but never resided.

      • nbs2 says:

        I’m going the opposite way – I’m in MD and heading down south. I’ll be making more money and the COL is lower. But, I want to stay here. We’ve found an area we love, we have friends and family nearby, etc.

        Eh, like you, I’m sure we’ll end up returning to the place we love.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Actually, a number of these states have areas that are quite respectable in terms of employment. On the other hand, your coastal states are always going to be more expensive. Fleeing to Taxacusets to get a better paying job may not work out so well in the end.

      You HAVE to make more there. You have to make more there just to cover the extra cost of living and/or taxes.

  4. redskull says:

    I would have to think long and hard before I moved for a job. Jobs have a tendency to go away, and when they do, there you are, stuck in a strange city with few friends and no family. I know, as it’s happened to me.

    Plus if I’m ever decide to move again, it’s going to be to someplace I WANT to live, not someplace I HAVE to live.

    Does this article take into consideration things like property tax, housing prices and utilities? You might indeed bring home more money in these places, but you could end up spending the increase on bills.

    • misterfweem says:

      Nope. Doesn’t look like they’re taking cost of living into account. I live in a state the study finds not having a statistical difference in upward or downward mobility. A few years ago I looked at jobs in another state, and quickly discovered that even though the higher pay would be nice, the higher cost of living would mean my quality of life would actually have taken a steep nosedive had I moved chasing a job.

    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

      Excellent point. Especially when you’re talking about Connecticut. Or New York or New Jersey for that matter. Yikes.

  5. technoreaper says:

    Michigan? Hilarious! This study just lost all credibility, and quite possibly is politically biased.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      MBQ biased? What ever gave you that idea?

    • plex says:

      Got to admit, was scratching my head about Michigan. Just came from there and it had one of the worst economies in the country from 2000-2011, in 2008-2010, it WAS the worst, bar none.

  6. kobresia says:

    You might be making more money if you live in a place that has a higher cost-of-living and pretty much all the employers have to pay more in able to make it possible for their employees to afford to live there.

    • Lucky225 says:

      I’m glad someone has their eyes open, my employer is in New Jersey, however I live in Colorado, and prior to my move was living in Texas. My employer will often bring up the prospect of moving out to NJ to be an ‘in-office’ employee, offering paid travel expenses/reimbursement and a higher salary, however in both States I’ve lived in, we have little-to-no income tax(none in TX, 4.2% flatrate in CO), and the rent is dirt cheap, a move to NJ, even with a higher salary, would just mean income taxes due to NJ, higher cost of living, rent, & utilities, and possibly mean my take-home is actually less then what it is here.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I was thinking this as well. Texas has a very low cost of living and no state income tax. That accounts for some of the lower pay right there.

    • jesusofcool says:

      Glad someone brought this up. This all has to do with cost of living and frankly, the higher salary in a state like MA doesn’t make up for the higher cost of pretty much everything here. In the Boston area, it’s insane what you have to make to live comfortably as a family of four vs in say, the Indianapolis area. The higher salaries in Boston aren’t that much higher, particularly in certain industries – you are still going to end up getting less bang for your buck.

    • dolemite says:

      I’ve got a buddy that took a job up near DC, making about 30k more than he did in a rural area.

      Thing is, gas is higher, and his mortgage is about $1500 more a month, property tax is higher, food, etc. and now he spends about 2-3 hours a day in traffic going to and from work. I’m not sure if 15-10k more money is worth all that.

    • elangomatt says:

      I can’t believe that they didn’t make cost of living a factor. I had a job offer in the DC area (didn’t get clearance) 6 years ago for the same amount of money that I am now making in north-central Illinois. It seemed like a lot of money at the time but I found out about how much higher cost of living was out there so I probably would have had ended up being worse off than the job I have in Illinois.

  7. cromartie says:

    Well, yes. And I’d move if my house wasn’t underwater as a result of the housing collapse. See how that works?

  8. Guppy06 says:

    “A study by the Pew Center on the States found that those living in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Utah had a better chance of climbing that economic ladder. The worst states to advance your fortunes were found to be Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.”

    “Right-to-work” states bolded for your pleasure!

  9. trellis23 says:

    And with those higher salaries, you’ll be in the same situation you’re in now, or worse off because your housing, insurance, taxes, etc will all be exorbitantly higher. I am solidly middle class (based on income guidelines), living in new england. The cheapest 1bedapt I could find in my area is more than half my take home pay. Childcare here for one child is also more half my take home pay. People need to use logic before moving somewhere for a job that pays “better.”

  10. ZenListener says:

    A house in the suburbs of Manhattan: 4 bedroom, 2 & 1/2 bath, 3100 sqft : $799,000
    A house in suburbs of Austin, TX: 4 bedroom, 2 & 1/2 bath, 3037 sqft: $108,000

    I hope you’re getting a whole lot more money up there. Not that I’m saying Texas is all that and a bowl of chili, but when it comes to housing prices… I have family who are living in converted vacation homes (small) that cost more than the McMansions down here.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Exactly. Salary is all relative to cost of living. Not all of those northern states are expensive though. All of Michigan and about 3/4 of PA are fairly cheap. Even western New York is cheap, though the taxes suck big time. You can make $80,000 a year in suburban Detroit and easily afford a nice house in a good area.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      What type of off the wall source did you use to find that house? a 3k sq foot house is usually over $200k in the suburbs of Austin.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        The fun thing about a state that’s not completely overpopulated is that you can live as close to or as far away from the city as you want. You can build yourself a concrete dome if you want. You can have a multi-acre property. It will all still be cheaper and less inconvenient than dealing with the east coast megopolis.

        That’s part of the beauty of suburbs. You can be right on the corporation limit or 4 suburbs over.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      I gotta call BS on this. More like 250-300k, but still a fraction of the cost and still in a city WAY better than NYNY.

  11. Guppy06 says:

    “Economic mobility” does not equal “salary.” They’re not necessarily saying that people in those states get paid the same amount of money for the same work, but that they’re more likely to get raises and promotions over time.

    It’s not that Person A makes more than Person B, but that Person B will still be stuck making the same money (or less) five years from now.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Keep spinning Zippy. I could NEVER afford to live in the house I live in now if I had to move to the east coast. Not even close.

  12. TasteyCat says:

    Yes, come to New England. Enjoy the winters that don’t end (snow in October and April, really?), double the cost of living, and among highest tax burdens in the union. But remember, bring a few hundred grand with you for that home that you’ll settle for because your dream home can’t be bought by normal people. And if you have more than 1 kid, don’t bother working. Daycare will eat our entire paycheck.

    My rough math shows me saving $2700 per month by moving to a tax friendly southern state. Between that and the damn snow, I won’t be sticking around for long.

    • pgr says:

      There is lot more to life than living in a “Tax friendly” state! NO taxes equals NO services.

      I’m retired and live in New England. I could live anywhere I choose but I’d rather be dead than live down South, in Texas, OK, NM, AZ, or Nevada. The quality of life is a lot more important than what it costs you to live.

      On second thought, if you want to live with a bunch of uneducated, ignorant, bigoted, right-wing church goers, pack your bags. I won’t miss you, fer sure!

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        ‘if you want to live with a bunch of uneducated, ignorant, bigoted, right-wing church goers’

        And aren’t you just an unbiased, open-minded, non-judgmental little ray of sunshine?

      • MrEvil says:

        Good, the rest of us non-bigoted educated atheist well-mannered people don’t want your types down here anyway.

      • TasteyCat says:

        Living in a tax unfriendly state does not necessarily mean more services. If you have to pay people twice as much to do the same work, there is much waste. This country survived, even thrived, for 150 years without a federal income tax, with a population as large as 100 million people.

        If it were me, I’d rather be dead than live in this country, north or south, later in life. What with the shambles that is the American healthcare industry.

      • Dinhilion says:

        You do know that Austin (the capital of Texas) is consistently rated as one of the most liberal cities in America right? Just checking.

        • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

          Of course they don’t. They just parrot what their clueless libtard friends say. They’ve probably never even been to Texas. Screw ’em! We have enough asshole yankees here already.

        • SimonGodOfHairdos says:

          Austin can be as liberal as it wants, but TEXAS still makes the laws that determine how much control I get over my uterus, and laws that discriminate against homosexuals. As long as Austin is part of Texas, it’s just not an option for some people because of their lifestyle and/or moral code.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      I’m just sticking up here until I qualify for my pension.

  13. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Pennsylvania? LMAO. A local company just “downsized”, read “we got rid of people in their 50’s and 60’s who have higher wages and lots of vacation built up”, and now is placing entry level job ads in the paper asking for people with experience and bachelor’s degrees, all for jobs that look just a little like the downsized people’s jobs.

    So do your research before you come to Central PA. Oh, and we also have winters that last for 6 or 7 months…and then road construction season. Fun times.

    • akiri423 says:

      Yeah I LOLed a bit at the accompanying picture. I grew up in PA and don’t see myself ever moving back there.

      • tbax929 says:

        I am a fellow escapee and whole-heartedly agree.

        • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

          I’m an only child, and I live a few miles away from my parents, who are 76 and 77 years old. They’re starting to have health issues, and morally I don’t feel right about leaving. But as soon as they’re gone, all bets are off. My ancestors settled nearby before the Revolutionary War, so I’m not sure if my DNA will allow me to leave, but I’m gonna give it a shot!

      • mbz32190 says:

        As someone who lives close to Philly, there are still jobs to be had, if you are in the right field, and I’ve heard Pittsburgh does okay economically too. But everything in between the two cities…good luck.

    • kathygnome says:

      Having driven on the PA turnpike, I find it hard to believe that PA ever does anything to its roads.

      • ZachPA says:

        It should definitely be noted that the PA Turnpike is the smoothest interstate or pseudo-interstate highway (I-99/US-220, PA 61, PA 283, etc) in the state. Pennsylvania doesn’t believe in spending money on highway resurfacing using asphalt; rather, the state paves with concrete in strips.

        Said concrete strips buckle, shift, and crumble in pieces, just like the slabs of a sidewalk. As a result, highways are repaired piecemeal, with only the bare minimum replaced or repaired at a time. Over the years, this has led to most highways becoming either a metronome as tires rumble over the seams, or a jumbled mess of staccato notes of multiple fixes in a line.

        Also, there are two seasons in PA: Winter, and “holy hell what is that god awful stench?”

        • SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

          In answer to your question above: “holy hell what is that god awful stench?”


      • Jane_Gage says:

        To say nothing of the assholes driving on them.

  14. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Did they factor in the fact that many people who live in states other than where they were born do so because of a job transfer? Janitors don’t normally get transferred. It’s generally the higher level people. That would account for the difference in income.

  15. MacUser1986 says:

    The issue here is who wants to live in any of those states especially New Jersey?

  16. eternityawaits says:

    This is a really narrow statement on “financially climbing the ladder” – as people previously mentioned a lot has to do with cost of living in these areas (among other things).

    When I worked in NY, I saw (on average) a salary increase of $1500 a year. My annual RENT increase alone, nevermind other cost of living increases, was about $2400 a year.

    Fast forward 6 years…. We have been living in FL for 2 years (not by choice, but out of necessity of family emergency) and I stayed with the same company. My average annual increase is still about $1200 a year, BUT – my rent has only increased $25 total, in those 2 years and I’m only seeing another $10 increase this year. Therefore, I’m still taking home way more a year than I used to.

  17. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Yes because making twice the money makes up for paying three times as much to live there. Or not.

  18. superflippy says:

    I’m not going to argue. I could be making a lot more money in NYC or CA, but we stay in SC because my husband has a highly specialized job and of the places available for him to work, SC seems best.

    Also, keep in mind, more money isn’t the only part of the equation. In NYC or CA, the cost of living would wipe out most financial gains. A 4br house in small-town SC or a tiny rented apt. in Berkely? That was an easy choice to make.

  19. zantafio says:

    I know a few friends who moved to New York and crawled back to Florida pennyless.

  20. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    I make about $3K more than my step dad and the cost of living in my city is significantly lower than his. How does he survive?!

  21. corridor7f says:

    Sure, there are more jobs, but also more competition and higher living costs.

  22. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I can’t afford to move unless it’s someplace WORSE.

    Believe me, I’d love to. I don’t like it here. There is nothing to do unless you’re 1) a church monkey; 2) have a large family you can drag to Walmart with you, or 3) are a twenty-something college kid. At least I have skating. And I don’t have any money to move right now. But the second I can, I plan on it.

  23. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    I’d be interested if this take into account that one can achieve a measure of “economic mobility” by moving to a state with a lower cost of living, thereby gaining an “automatic raise”, or if it’s only considering net increase of salary notwithstanding the cost of living.

  24. NotEd says:

    Having moved from Maryland 4 years ago, all I can say is “thank god I didn’t move to Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina or Texas.”

  25. xanxer says:

    Yo might make a decent wage if labor was organized and more workers were unionized.

  26. raytube says:

    Moving from Mississippi to Colorado has been incredible.
    As I say all the time, Mississippi, #1 at being last!