How Much You Need to Be in the Top 5% in Every State (2022)

How much do you think you need to be rich? Although being rich isn’t necessarily all about the money, most people consider the top 5 percent and 1 percent of earners in any given state to be rich. You might be surprised to learn, however, that there’s a vast discrepancy between the 5-percenters in one state as compared with some others. Perhaps even more surprising is that in some states, it’s not a huge leap from the top 5 percent to the top 1 percent.

GOBankingRates used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey and the Economic Policy Institute’s income inequality report to determine the average income for each state, plus Washington, D.C. Whether you want to be part of the rich and high-salaried or you have different feelings about them, here’s a look at how much you need to be “rich” in each state, based on the results of the data.

Data is accurate as of July 12, 2019, and is subject to change.

Last updated: March 20, 2020

Alabama

  • Average top 5% income: $284,361

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $170,906

On a relative basis, it’s fairly easy to crack the top 5 percent of income earners in Alabama. The state has the sixth-lowest threshold for entry to that elite crowd of all the states. Top earners average $743,644, also among the lowest in the country.

Alaska

  • Average top 5% income: $353,052

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $223,728

Alaska is a high-cost, high-income state, and the numbers bear out with the top 5 percent also. Even the mean household income for the bottom 20 percent is the highest in the nation, at $19,027.

Arizona

  • Average top 5% income: $328,778

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $195,113

Arizona’s in about the middle of the pack when it comes to the top 5 percent. The state’s top 5-percenters pull down about 4.5 times the overall average income in the state.

Arkansas

  • Average top 5% income: $277,187

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $160,675

Arkansas is one of the states in which garnering a top 5 percent income is reasonably attainable. Only two states, West Virginia and Mississippi, have a lower hurdle to enter that exclusive club. Of course, the average salary across the state is among the lowest in the nation as well.

California

  • Average top 5% income: $447,207

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

To be rich in California means you’ve really hit the big time. California is one of the seven states in the country — eight if you include Washington, D.C. — in which you’ll need at least $250,000 to reach the top 5 percent. But that’s still chump change compared to California’s 1-percenters, who earn close to $1.7 million on average. Unfortunately, a lot of that may be eaten up by taxes in the notoriously high-tax state.

Colorado

  • Average top 5% income: $385,707

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $228,672

Colorado is known as a paradise for outdoorsy types, but it’s also a haven for the wealthy. The state ranks No. 12 in terms of boundaries of the top 5 percent club, with incomes well above $200,000 required for entry.

Connecticut

  • Average top 5% income: $529,367

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

Among the states, Connecticut has the highest average income for the top 5 percent of earners, at $529,367. The state’s 1-percenters have the highest average income in the country, at just over $2.5 million.

Delaware

  • Average top 5% income: $361,946

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $211,732

Although it doesn’t crack the top 10, Delaware still requires over $200,000 in income to make it to the top 5 percent. Unlike some of its wealthier neighbors, however, you can still be an average 1-percenter in Delaware with an income below $1 million — $869,461, to be exact.

Florida

  • Average top 5% income: $355,610

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $196,433

It’s not super difficult to crack the top 5 percent in Florida; however, if you’re looking to be a 1-percenter, you’ve got quite a mountain to climb. The average salary for these top earners is a whopping $1,543,124, the eighth highest in the nation.

Georgia

  • Average top 5% income: $345,535

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $202,025

Georgia’s in about the middle of the pack when it comes to the salaries of its wealthiest residents. You’ll need to earn over $200,000 to make it to the top 5 percent, but you won’t need to break $1 million to be an average 1-percenter in the state.

Hawaii

  • Average top 5% income: $378,854

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $238,820

Hawaii is one of the country’s most expensive states, but salaries are high, as well: The average income across the state tops $95,000. However, the average salary for the top 1 percent is “only” $797,001, just a bit over double the average salary for the top 5 percent.

Idaho

  • Average top 5% income: $286,974

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $167,204

Salaries are moderately low across the board in Idaho, making it easier on a relative basis to crack the top 5 percent. Even the top 1 percent earns a relatively modest $829,268 on average.

Illinois

  • Average top 5% income: $394,103

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $227,304

In the Land of Lincoln, you might need a politician’s or a lawyer’s income to crack the top 5 percent. It’s even harder to make it to the top 1 percent, where the average salary comes in at over $1.4 million.

Indiana

  • Average top 5% income: $294,162

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $173,021

Indiana continues the trend of lower incomes in the Midwest, and it’s the seventh-easiest state to break into the top 5 percent. It’s not a far climb from the top 5 percent to the top 1 percent, where the average income just barely cracks $800,000.

Iowa

  • Average top 5% income: $307,993

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $180,304

The barrier to entry is fairly low in the Hawkeye State, with less than $200,000 required to break into the top 5 percent. The average salary for 1-percenters isn’t too much further along, reaching $788,419.

Kansas

  • Average top 5% income: $326,661

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $189,252

Like many of its Midwestern brethren, Kansas has a relatively low barrier to entry into the 5 percent club. However, its overall salary picture stands out in one significant aspect: The average salary of the state’s 1-percenters is over $1 million.

Kentucky

  • Average top 5% income: $289,587

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $167,532

Average salaries in the Bluegrass State are low in every category on a relative basis. The bottom quintile earns just over $10,000 on average, and even the top 1 percent pulls down just over $719,000. Compared with other states, it’s easy to crack into the top 5 percent here.

Louisiana

  • Average top 5% income: $301,317

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $182,288

Average workers in the Pelican State earn a relatively low income, with those in the bottom 20 percent drawing among the lowest salaries in the country. On the high end of the scale, average salaries are on the lower end as well.

Maine

  • Average top 5% income: $298,886

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $178,516

Perhaps surprisingly, Maine breaks the New England states’ tradition of being the home of the rich. The top 1 percent earns an average salary of $655,870, the fourth lowest in the country. That’s good news for the top 5-percenters in Maine who are looking to climb to the top of the ladder.

Maryland

  • Average top 5% income: $431,491

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

Maryland’s 1-percenters earn over $1.1 million on average, and the 5-percenters aren’t far behind, bringing home the sixth-highest average salary in the country. Even the average wage in the state as a whole ranks as the fourth highest across America.

Massachusetts

  • Average top 5% income: $460,251

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

Massachusetts helps maintain New England’s reputation for being one of the wealthiest corners of the nation, with the average salary for the top 5 percent reaching $460,251, the fourth highest in the country. The top 1 percent pulls down nearly $2 million on average.

Michigan

  • Average top 5% income: $316,232

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $187,384

Michigan offers middle-of-the-road wages for high earners. A sub-$200,000 salary can get you into the state’s top 5 percent, while just over $917,000 in earnings will push you into the top 1 percent.

Minnesota

  • Average top 5% income: $372,364

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $218,790

The Land of 10,000 Lakes also has a lot of high earners within its borders. Minnesotans need to earn well over $200,000 to be in the top 5 percent, and it’s one of the states where the average 1-percenter earns over $1 million.

Mississippi

  • Average top 5% income: $255,454

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $154,295

Mississippi has very low limits to qualify earners as rich. The lower limit of the top 5 percent is the smallest income in that category in the entire country. The state also has the second-lowest average income for 1-percenters, at $580,461.

Missouri

  • Average top 5% income: $309,278

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $181,527

Missouri workers might want to change the state’s slogan to “show me the money” thanks to its average salary of just $70,144, the 14th lowest in the country. The average 1-percenter does a bit better, relatively speaking, earning $944,804.

Montana

  • Average top 5% income: $302,605

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $176,370

Big Sky Country has moderate salaries overall, with a very attainable top 5 percent limit relative to its peers. If you can earn $855,976 in Montana, you’ll be an average 1-percenter.

Nebraska

  • Average top 5% income: $309,480

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $185,422

Salary brackets come in about average overall in Nebraska. It takes a bit of effort to move from the 5 percent category to the top 1 percent, however, as the average salary is more than triple in the latter category.

Nevada

  • Average top 5% income: $320,403

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $184,901

Nevada is one of the states in which reaching the top 5 percent seems relatively attainable, but becoming a 1-percenter is a stretch. To reach that lofty goal, you’ll need to earn $1,354,780 on average, or more than four times what the average 5 percent earner makes.

New Hampshire

  • Average top 5% income: $364,454

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $229,425

New Hampshire residents enjoy high salaries overall, with even the bottom 20 percent earning over $17,000 per year, the third highest in the U.S. The average salary across the state is high as well, topping $91,000.

New Jersey

  • Average top 5% income: $475,827

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

New Jersey might not get as much press as its Big Apple neighbor, but its top 5-percenters certainly aren’t hurting, pulling down the third-highest average annual salary in the nation: $475,827.

New Mexico

  • Average top 5% income: $280,094

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $173,396

The lower limit of the top 5 percent in New Mexico is one of the most accessible in the country. For people striving for even more, members of the top 1 percent in New Mexico earn the third-lowest average salary in the country, at $615,082.

New York

  • Average top 5% income: $480,780

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

New York is one of the eight states (including Washington, D.C.) that require at least $250,000 in income to crack the top 5 percent. The mean household income of the 5-percenters is the second highest in the country, at $480,780.

North Carolina

  • Average top 5% income: $324,148

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $188,470

North Carolina is about average when it comes to salaries for the top 5 percent. Its top 1-percenters earn just over $900,000 on average.

North Dakota

  • Average top 5% income: $364,954

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $203,744

The state might not have the pizzazz of Silicon Valley or the old-money feel of New England, but North Dakotans are laughing all the way to the bank when it comes to their salaries. The lower limit of the top 5 percent breaches $200,000, while the state’s top earners pull down over $1 million, on average.

Ohio

  • Average top 5% income: $310,017

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $183,823

Ohio is another Midwestern state with salaries that fall just a bit below the average for the country as a whole. A salary of $858,965 is enough to put you right at the average income of a 1-percenter.

Oklahoma

  • Average top 5% income: $300,382

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $175,805

Salaries in Oklahoma are a bit light across the board, with just over $175,000 required to put you in the top 5 percent. On the high end, it’s a bit more difficult to reach the salary of the average 1-percenter, which reaches $932,520.

Oregon

  • Average top 5% income: $329,517

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $199,256

Considering it is sandwiched between two high-earning states, salaries seem a bit stagnated in Oregon, where less than $200,000 puts you in the top 5 percent. You’ll still need over $900,000 in income to reach the average salary of a 1-percenter.

Pennsylvania

  • Average top 5% income: $348,739

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $206,534

Pennsylvania’s one of the harder states in the U.S. to crack the ranks of the top earners, especially if you’re shooting big — the average 1-percenter in Pennsylvania earns $1,100,962.

Rhode Island

  • Average top 5% income: $361,920

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $214,529

Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the country, but salaries there are far from tiny. The lower limit of the top 5 percent is well above average, and it takes $928,204 to be considered an average 1-percenter in the state.

South Carolina

  • Average top 5% income: $296,503

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $174,555

South Carolina is in the bottom 10 when it comes to the lower limit of the top 5 percent. However, it’s not as hard for the 5-percenters to reach the top 1 percent in South Carolina, as the average salary for these top earners is $761,185.

South Dakota

  • Average top 5% income: $307,194

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $176,511

South Dakota is a land of extremes when it comes to its salary distribution. While it takes just over $176,000 to reach the top 5 percent — one of the lowest barriers to entry — you’ll need to earn $1,130,048 to be considered an average 1-percenter.

Tennessee

  • Average top 5% income: $323,763

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $179,962

Overall, workers in Tennessee are among the lowest paid in the country. However, the salary of the average 1-percenter in the state remains fairly high on a relative basis, at $947,021.

Texas

  • Average top 5% income: $373,094

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $218,061

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that applies to salaries as well. Both the lower limit of the top 5 percent and the average top 5 percent income are toward the high end of the range, while the average 1-percenter pulls down an impressive $1,343,897.

Utah

  • Average top 5% income: $338,384

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $202,202

Utah is one of the most scenic states in the country, and things must look especially bright for the state’s top 1-percenters, as their average salary tops $1 million. Even the lower limit of the top 5 percent requires earnings over $200,000.

Vermont

  • Average top 5% income: $315,972

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $192,323

For a state in the Northeast, Vermont has a relatively low salary scale. The average salary of a 1-percenter in Vermont ranks as the 12th lowest in the country, at $816,579.

Virginia

  • Average top 5% income: $403,190

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

The home state of Thomas Jefferson is also home to some of the country’s highest earners, with at least $250,000 required to break into the top 5 percent club. Salaries are pretty high across all income levels in the state, with even the average salary crossing $94,000.

Washington

  • Average top 5% income: $378,374

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $229,199

Home to Boeing and numerous tech companies, Washington is one of the states with a high hurdle for the 5 percent club. Things are even better for top 1-percenters, who earn nearly $1.4 million on average.

West Virginia

  • Average top 5% income: $249,200

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $155,823

West Virginia ranks as the second-easiest state of all to crack into the top 5 percent of earners. The state has low incomes overall, so that’s not a surprising development. Even the top 1 percent earns the lowest average salary among that group in the country, at $535,648.

Wisconsin

  • Average top 5% income: $313,091

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $182,897

You won’t have to earn too much compared to some states to rank in the top 5 percent in Wisconsin. Things pick up for the 1-percenters in the land of cheese and brats, however, where the average salary hits $964,358.

Wyoming

  • Average top 5% income: $302,217

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $182,268

Wyoming is one of the toughest states in the nation to jump from the 5 percent club to the top 1 percent. The average salary for the top 5 percent is a whopping nearly $1.6 million below the $1.9 million-plus that the average 1-percenter earns.

Washington, D.C.

  • Average top 5% income: $582,044

  • Lower limit of top 5%: $250,000+

Although it’s not technically a state, residents of the nation’s capital earn the highest average salary anywhere in the country, at $116,090. Things are even better for the district’s top 5-percenters, who also earn the highest average salary in the nation at $582,044.

How to Break Into the 5 Percent Club

Although most people can agree that those earning a top 5 percent or top 1 percent salary in any state are well off, the data shows a staggering difference in income levels among the states. Although earning the income of an average 1-percenter in some states, like Connecticut, might seem far-off, many states have much more reasonable thresholds, particularly for the 5 percent club.

If you’re looking to crack into these elite income clubs, consider taking on extra jobs, asking for a raise, generating passive income or shifting to a higher-paying industry. With hard work and a little luck, you too might be able to count yourself among the highest earners in your state.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates found how much a household has to make pretax to be in the top 5 percent of the highest-earning households in each state by analyzing the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey (ACS), as well as the Economic Policy Institute’s income inequality report for supplemental data on the top 1 percent of households. GOBankingRates took the 2013-2017 ACS five-year estimates of household income quintile upper limits (a quintile is equivalent to 20 percent or a fifth) and ranked each state according to the income of the lower limit of the top 5 percent of households. Supplemental data was compiled, including the mean household income of quintiles, which shows both the mean household income (pretax) for each 20 percent quintile by state as well as the top 5 percent for each state; the overall mean household income and each mean household income for the five quintiles of each state from the ACS 2013-2017 five-year estimates.

Data is accurate as of July 12, 2019, and is subject to change.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Much You Need to Be in the Top 5% in Every State

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