Report

Economic Mobility of the States

Key Findings

The key findings use the national earnings distribution and aggregate results from all three mobility measures to identify those states where economic mobility is most distinct from the national average: that is, those that differ from the national average on at least two measures.

  • Eight states, primarily in the Mideast and New England regions, have consistently higher upward and lower downward mobility compared to the nation as a whole.

    Maryland, New Jersey, and New York have better economic mobility than the national average on all three measures investigated; Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Utah have better mobility than the national average on two measures.

  • Nine states, all in the South, have consistently lower upward and higher downward mobility compared to the nation as a whole.

    Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have worse economic mobility than the national average on all three measures investigated; Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas have worse mobility than the national average on two measures.

  • Geographic mobility – whether people born in a particular state stayed there or moved elsewhere – does not drive state differences in economic mobility.

    In other words, states have similar rates of economic mobility regardless of whether Americans were grouped by their birth states or the states they were living in at the time of the survey.

    Geographic mobility does matter at an individual level. Those who moved out of their birth states (“movers”) had better mobility outcomes on average than those who did not (“stayers”).

    However, geographic mobility did not affect the overall state mobility results. Regions experiencing higher mobility than the national average did so when looking only at movers and when looking only at stayers.

Report Assets

EMP_animated Video
Measuring Mobility

This video explains the difference between absolute and relative mobility, and why both matter.

Date:
May 10, 2012
Project:
Economic Mobility Project
Issues:
Absolute Mobility, Relative Mobility
State:
National

Related RESEARCH & ANALYSIS

PCS.PRODUCTION.1.20140421.1115 (PEWSUWVMWAPP01)