Economic Mobility of the States is a new interactive tool that captures the findings of 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.
Users can click the map to see 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 research for Economic Mobility of the States 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. Relative upward and relative downward mobility measure 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 more about your state's economic mobility, including both national and regional findings, visit our online interactive tool.
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.
The study draws upon data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the Social Security Administration to assess participants' earnings over a 10-year period. All of the research conducted with confidential Census Bureau data was performed by Dr. Bhashkar Mazumder and Jonathan M. V. Davis. Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of The Pew Charitable Trusts and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Census Bureau. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed.