Study rates states’ economic mobility
Southern states, led by Louisiana and South Carolina, have the worst economic mobility in the country, according to a new study. Northern states, with New York and New Jersey topping the list, rate best. The study, “Economic Mobility of the States,” from the Pew Center on the States, examined economic mobility, the ability to move up or down the earnings ladder.
The study examined income mobility using three measures. Absolute mobility measured state residents’ average earnings growth over time. Two categories, relative upward mobility and relative downward mobility, measured residents’ rank on the earnings ladder relative to their peers across the country or in specific regions.
States were found either to outperform or underperform the nation as a whole in each category. Researchers used results from all three mobility measures to “identify those states where economic mobility is most distinct from the national average.”
Eight states had greater upward mobility, with a better chance of income gains, and lower downward mobility, with less chance of income declines. They include New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Utah and Connecticut.
Nine states, primarily in the South, had the most downward mobility and least upward mobility. They include Louisiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Kentucky.
The study does not specifically address the causes of relative mobility between states. Erin Currier, manager of the Pew Economic Mobility Project, says some key factors affect overall economic mobility, including educational attainment, savings and asset building, and neighborhood poverty during childhood.