New Study From MoneyRates Names The Best States to Make A Living

Best States to Make a Living 2020
By Linda Vergon
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As part of its tenth annual study, also factored the impact of COVID-19 by measuring the rate at which states have been losing jobs since business lockdowns started.

Foster City, CA - May 7, 2020 - Personal finance resource today released its annual ranking of the best states to make a living. The state of Washington, despite being the early epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., outranked the rest of the country to take the top spot.

Now in its tenth year of conducting this study,'s experts ranked each state based on a formula that factors in the cost of living, median wages, state taxes, unemployment rates and workplace safety. This year, to account for the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the research also factored in the rate at which states have been losing jobs since widespread business lockdowns began.

Washington is perennially a contender for the best state, having led the study for five out of ten years. It was the runner-up last year behind only Wyoming, which surprisingly didn't crack the top ten this year. A key to Washington's success is that residents enjoy the 4th highest median income of any state, but it's also a great place to make a living due to other key factors such as no state income tax and a low cost of living.

However, the study did highlight one cautionary note about employment conditions in Washington. Because the state was hard hit in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, its job market fell off more sharply than that of most states in the initial weeks of lockdowns. Along with Washington, the following states ranked in the top ten for making a living in 2020:

1. Washington

2. North Dakota

3. Minnesota

4. Michigan

5. Texas

6. Illinois

7. Kansas

8. Tennessee

9. Colorado

10. Oklahoma

Large-scale business shutdowns due to the coronavirus began in mid-March. By the end of that month, 32 states had already seen their unemployment rate rise. Since these job losses are likely to have a growing impact on conditions in each state, included this recent trend in its calculation.

As with all factors in this study, the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the job market varied widely on a state-by-state basis. For example, Alaska led the way among seven states that saw their unemployment rates drop. In contrast, Nevada saw a 2.7% jump in unemployment in March alone, where the service, hospitality and gaming industries are economic drivers.

"Our annual ranking of the best states for making a living has never been conducted amid anything as disruptive as the coronavirus pandemic. This year's results are unique in that they offer a glimpse into which states are built to weather this crisis and which states could potentially be hit the hardest," explains Richard Barrington, Senior Financial Analyst for

On the opposite end, Hawaii ranked at the bottom for states to make a living. Hawaii suffers from the highest cost of living in the nation and compounds that with the second-highest state income tax. For more insight on the report's findings and its methodology, read the full article entitled Best States to Make a Living 2020.

Additional resources

Which States Pay the Most Federal Taxes?

America's Best Rates on Savings, Money Markets and CDs

Best Places to Downsize in Retirement 2020

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