Where in U.S. do paychecks stretch the most? Not N.J., study finds

By Emily Bader
New Jersey | Dec 3, 2019 at 11:45 am

Where in the United States do paychecks stretch the farthest? A new study by TheSeniorList believes it has found the answer.

To understand how much an average person spent in each state, the lifestyle brand’s study on the Most and Least Affordable States used data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine income and expenses.

The study found that Americans spent per-capita $40,878 per year in 2017, which includes spending on things such as housing, utilities, food, clothing, furnishing, health care, transportation, financial services, insurance and more. That same year, the average worker earned approximately $50,000 per year, which means they spent at least 81% of what they made (and probably more).

So how do the states compare?

The study found that New Jersey is the No. 36 most affordable state in the U.S. with expenses taking up 82.6% of income, 2.6% above the national average.

Key New Jersey findings:

  • High at No. 2 in highest housing and utilities payments, $10,280. (Tied with Connecticut at $10,280 and only below District of Columbia $11,161.)
  • Low on percentage change in average annual wage for full-time workers at 1.74%. (Highest was North Dakota at 19.07% and lowest was Michigan at -2.08%.)
  • Middle of the pack in percentage change in average annual wage taken up by per-capita consumer spending at +2.74%. (Highest was District of Columbia at -7.10% and lowest was Idaho at +14.17%)

Key national findings: 

  • The 10 most affordable states include: District of Columbia, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Washington, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi, respectively.
  • The least affordable state is South Dakota, where the average resident spends more per year than they take in at a ratio of 100.9%.
  • The South is the most affordable region, with an average of 77.2% of income eaten by expenses, while the Northeast is the most expensive with 85.1%.

To read the full study, click here.

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | emilybader