By definition, there will always be a significant gap between what the median wage is in a state versus what the top 10% earn. However, the size of this gap can vary widely depending on where you live. For example, if you live in New York or Washington, D.C., you'll need to earn about four times the median income to crack the top 10%. In other states, like Utah, the top 10% of incomes are exactly three times as large as median salaries.
To help highlight the disparities, GOBankingRates analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2019 American Community Survey to determine quintile mean income and the amount earned by the top 10% of earners in each state. States were ranked from the smallest salaries earned by the top 10% to the largest.
What's clear is that both the median income and the salary earned by the top 10% in each state can vary considerably. If you're looking to earn more and have some flexibility, you can check out the average salaries in nearby states to see if you might be able to boost your income. Even if you remain in your home state, there are plenty of entry-level jobs that pay far above the median incomes listed below.
Last updated: Sept. 17, 2021
51. West Virginia
Median income: $48,850
Top 10% income: $163,240
In West Virginia, the top 10% earns 234% -- or $114,390 -- more than the median income.
Median income: $45,792
Top 10% income: $169,318
Mississippi has the lowest median income in America, but the wealthy still do well on a relative basis, earning 270% more than the average earner.
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Median income: $48,952
Top 10% income: $173,941
Top earners in Arkansas do much better than average, earning 255% more than the median income.
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Median income: $51,734
Top 10% income: $180,469
Alabama, like many states in the South, has a tremendous wealth gap between average earners and the top 10%, who pull down 249% more than the median income.
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47. New Mexico
Median income: $51,945
Top 10% income: $181,940
The Land of Enchantment doesn't have a very high median income, but earners in the top 10% pull down 250% more than the average earner.
Median income: $52,295
Top 10% income: $183,549
Top earners in the Bluegrass State earn $131,254 more on average than the median earner, amounting to a 251% jump.
45. South Dakota
Median income: $59,533
Top 10% income: $184,714
The gap between average and top earners in South Dakota is more equitable than in some states, reaching just 210%.
Median income: $60,999
Top 10% income: $188,036
Median earnings in Idaho crack the $60,000 barrier, but top earners net 208% more.
Median income: $51,073
Top 10% income: $190,038
Louisiana has one of the lowest median incomes in the nation, but the top 10% still does quite well. This translates to a relatively large 272% gap between the two.
Median income: $58,924
Top 10% income: $190,606
Relatively speaking, the gap between top 10% earners and median earners isn't huge in Maine, amounting to just 223%.
Median income: $57,153
Top 10% income: $191,819
The top 10% in Big Sky country earn about 3.36 times the median income, an increase of about 236%.
Median income: $54,449
Top 10% income: $192,061
If you're in the top 10% of income earners in Oklahoma, you pull down about 253% more than the median income.
Median income: $61,691
Top 10% income: $192,979
The gap between median and top earners in Iowa isn't as large as in many states, amounting to just 213%.
Median income: $57,603
Top 10% income: $193,279
The top 10% in Indiana earn about $135,000 more than the median annually, or about 236% more.
Median income: $57,409
Top 10% income: $194,185
The gap between top and median earners in Missouri is about average, amounting to $136,776, or 238%.
Median income: $65,003
Top 10% income: $196,029
Wyoming has one of the smallest gaps in the nation between its median earners and its top 10%, amounting to just 202%.
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Median income: $64,168
Top 10% income: $197,977
Wisconsin's top 10% earns 209% more than its median earners on average, a relatively benign ratio.
Median income: $63,229
Top 10% income: $197,997
Nebraska's top earners pull down 213% more than its median earners, which is a relatively low gap on a national basis.
33. South Carolina
Median income: $56,227
Top 10% income: $198,951
To jump from the median income to the top 10% of income earners in South Carolina you'd need to earn an additional 254%.
Median income: $58,642
Top 10% income: $199,074
If you earn the median income in Ohio and want to jump up to the top 10% of earners, you'll need to raise your salary by 239%.
Median income: $56,071
Top 10% income: $199,456
The $143,385 difference between median and top 10% earners in Tennessee is fairly large on a percentage basis, amounting to a 256% jump.
Median income: $63,001
Top 10% income: $200,816
Median earners in Vermont pull down over $63,000, but the top 10% earns $200,816, amounting to a spread of 219%.
Median income: $62,087
Top 10% income: $200,932
If you're a top 10% earner in Kansas, you're pulling down 224% of what median income workers make.
Median income: $59,584
Top 10% income: $201,676
The spread between the median income and the top 10% of earners in Michigan is 238%.
27. North Carolina
Median income: $57,341
Top 10% income: $204,129
North Carolina's top 10% of earners outpace its median income by a fairly large 256%.
Median income: $62,055
Top 10% income: $209,819
Top-end salaries start heating up in the Valley of the Sun, where the top 10% earns 238% of the median salary.
25. North Dakota
Median income: $64,577
Top 10% income: $209,985
The top 10% of earners in North Dakota pull down 225% more than the median wage.
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Median income: $67,058
Top 10% income: $215,026
If you're earning a median income in Oregon, you'll need to pull down about 221% more if you want to crack the top 10%.
Median income: $59,227
Top 10% income: $217,456
Florida is the first state in the list with a top 10% earning at least $200,000, a significant 267% above the median income.
Median income: $63,276
Top 10% income: $220,208
The Silver State generates a lot of gold for its top 10% earners, who pull down $156,932 more than the state's median earners.
Median income: $61,980
Top 10% income: $222,399
Georgia's top wage earners greatly outpace the state's median wage, with the top 10% earning 259% more on average.
Median income: $63,463
Top 10% income: $223,499
Pennsylvania's gap between the top 10% of wage earners and the median income is fairly high on a national basis, at 252%.
Median income: $70,176
Top 10% income: $224,894
The gap between the top 10% and the median income in Delaware stands at $154,718, or 220%.
Median income: $75,780
Top 10% income: $227,022
Utah has a relatively high median income, and this translates into the lowest gap between top and average wage earners in the country. Utah's top 10% earn just 200% more than the median wage.
Median income: $64,034
Top 10% income: $228,924
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and it's certainly true when it comes to the gap between the median income and the top 10%, which stands at 258%.
16. Rhode Island
Median income: $71,169
Top 10% income: $228,951
The smallest state in the Union still pays out great wages for both median earners and the top 10%. The gap between the two is smaller than average for the country as a whole, at 222%.
Median income: $74,593
Top 10% income: $233,949
Minnesota's top 10% earns $159,356 more than the median income, a spread of 214%.
Median income: $75,463
Top 10% income: $234,221
Alaska has the one of the smallest spreads between its top 10% earners and its median income in the entire country, at just 210%. The state's high median income is a main reason why.
13. New Hampshire
Median income: $77,933
Top 10% income: $241,891
New Hampshire has a relatively high median income, and that helps keep the gap between its average wage earners and the top 10% to a very modest 210%.
Median income: $69,187
Top 10% income: $245,173
The Land of Lincoln has a pretty wide spread between its top 10% and its median income, at 254%.
Median income: $83,102
Top 10% income: $252,492
The Aloha State has one of the tiniest spreads in the nation between its median and top 10% of wage earners, at just 204%.
Median income: $77,127
Top 10% income: $255,114
The thin air of Colorado also seems to contribute to sky-high salaries, with the state's top 10% earning $177,987 more than its median earners, a spread of 231%.
Median income: $78,687
Top 10% income: $262,118
Washington's top 10% earns more than $183,431 above the state's median wage, a spread of 233%.
Median income: $76,456
Top 10% income: $265,171
Virginia's top 10% of earners enjoy wages a significant 247% above the state's median income.
Median income: $86,738
Top 10% income: $280,115
Maryland has one of the highest median incomes in the nation, but its top 10% still earn 223% more.
6. New York
Median income: $72,108
Top 10% income: $291,906
New York has the highest disparity in the nation between its median income and that of its top 10%, at a whopping 305%.
Median income: $80,440
Top 10% income: $295,369
California's top 10% earns quite a bit more than its median wage earners. The $214,919 disparity translates to a 267% spread.
Median income: $85,843
Top 10% income: $299,188
The disparity between what the top 10% makes versus the median income in Massachusetts stands at 249%.
3. New Jersey
Median income: $85,751
Top 10% income: $305,190
Wage disparity in the Garden State is fairly high, with the top 10% drawing 256% more than median wage earners.
Median income: $78,833
Top 10% income: $306,153
Wages are high in Connecticut, but so is the spread between the top 10% and the median income. At $227,320, that disparity translates to 288%.
1. District of Columbia
Median income: $92,266
Top 10% income: $361,695
The top 10% in the District of Columbia make $269,429 more than the average worker. This wage gap -- 292% more than the median salary -- is the largest wage gap in terms of absolute dollars in the country.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2019 American Community Survey on the mean income in the top quintile (20%) of earners to estimate earnings for the top 10%. GOBankingRates then compared this figure to the overall median household income in the U.S. for context. All data was collected on and up to date as of Nov. 25, 2020.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Much You Need To Earn To Rank in the Top 10% of Your State