Average salaries across the US in 2019 | Inquirer

Average salaries across the US in 2019

/ 09:00 AM January 02, 2020

Ever been curious about which states have the best pay? Us too. So we compared the average salary in each state to the housing costs to find where salaries go furthest.

Plus, we thought the median wages could help business owners see the amount of payroll taxes they’ll need to handle properly in each state. See why we recommend payroll software?

Top 10 states with the best pay

Rank State Median yearly wage Median monthly rent for 1 BR apartment Hours of work to afford apartment
1 Wyoming $40,240 $650 33.6
2 North Dakota $41,340 $725 36.5
3 West Virginia $32,640 $600 38.2
4 Alaska $48,020 $895 38.8
5 Oklahoma $34,560 $675 40.6
6 Montana $35,080 $700 41.5
7 South Dakota $33,450 $675 42.0
8 Iowa $37,100 $750 42.0
9 Kansas $35,950 $734 42.5
10 Arkansas $31,850 $670 43.8

You might have to give up on big-city living to really stretch your salary—all the 10 best states can easily be described as “rural.” But once you know how much further your pay is taking you in these states, will you really miss walking to the corner bodega?

Bottom 10 states with the worst pay

Rank State Median yearly wage Median monthly rent for 1 BR apartment Hours of work to afford apartment
1 New York $44,990 $2,199 101.7
2 California $42,430 $2,022 99.1
3 Massachusetts $48,680 $2,000 85.5
4 Florida $34,560 $1,404 84.5
5 Hawaii $42,480 $1,720 84.2
6 Washington $46,100 $1,783 80.4
7 New Jersey $43,600 $1,670 79.7
8 Virginia $40,820 $1,510 76.9
9 Illinois $39,950 $1,457 75.8
10 Georgia $35,950 $1,275 73.8

You’re probably not surprised by the bottom 10. After all, cities like Seattle, Boston, and New York City have notoriously high housing prices. Oh, and all of Hawaii too.

In fact, the only surprise is that California didn’t come dead last. In San Francisco, it takes 100 hours to afford a one-bedroom apartment. You’ll do slightly better in San Diego (91 hours), and even better in Riverside (85 hours), but let’s just say it’s no Wyoming.

Salaries, schmalaries

Look, salaries matter. But they’re not all that matters. Because sure, you might earn more in some states—but you’re not getting more for the money.


To create our ranking, we calculated how many hours at the median hourly wage it took to afford the median one-bedroom apartment in each state. Median wage data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Median one-bedroom cost was sourced from Zillow.com. Each data point is from 05/2018.

The takeaway

Unless you’re willing—and can afford—to pay an in-house bookkeeper, we recommend most small businesses outsource at least some of their payroll tasks to a third party. Payroll software providers remove much of the hassle, cost, and risk from managing payroll and free you to do what you’re meant to be doing: growing a successful business.

Looking for great accounting software to complement your payroll software? Read through our list of the year’s best accounting software for small businesses.


At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.


  1. USA Today, “How Much Should You Pay for Bookkeeping Services?
  2. Trustpilot, “Gusto
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TAGS: earnings, US salaries, wages
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