05/10/2012 - Economic Mobility of the States is the first analysis of Americans’ economic mobility—their movement up and down the earnings ladder—at the state level. Including data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this research identifies where in the country Americans are most likely to move up rather than down, and where they are most likely to move down rather than up.
The study focused on Americans in their prime working years, examining earnings averaged between ages 35 and 39 (measured between 1978 and 1997) and how those earnings rose or fell 10 years later when the same adults were between ages 45 and 49 (measured between 1988 and 2007).
The study measures economic mobility three ways. Absolute mobility measures residents’ average earnings growth over time. Upward and downward relative mobility measures people’s rank on the earnings ladder relative to their peers, and their movement up or down that ladder. Measuring a person’s relative mobility depends on who is included in their “peer group.” Relative peer groups are defined using the national earnings distribution, including all people in the nation, and using the regional earnings distribution, including only people in the same geographic region.
To learn about each state’s economic mobility, including both national and regional findings, visit the Economic Mobility of the States tool on the Pew Center on the States' new website.
View the interactive map.