Just about everyone has some kind of feeling about the U.S. Census, which asks all sorts of intrusive questions about your cohabitation preferences, your finances and your housing situation. Annoying. Invasive. Time-consuming.
But what few people may realize is that this has been going on since 1790, when the first census was conducted under the direction of Thomas Jefferson. (One can only imagine how he described his living arrangements). And it serves a greater purpose than mere nosiness.
More than 200 years later, the U.S. Census Bureau has released its most recent statistics on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. The estimates are available in detailed tables for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more. (Check out the Census Bureau's American FactFinder database to find statistics for your area.)
The findings are interesting. According to the report, Household Income for States: 2010 and 2011, which presents statistics on median household income at the national and state levels, in 2011 the median household income ranged from a high of $70,004 in Maryland to a low of $36,919 in Mississippi. Between 2010 and 2011, Vermont was the only state that showed an increase in median household income, which declined in 18 states.
Granted, two years is not such a long time lapse. So let's go back 40 years. Which state was richest, and which was the poorest?
The answers are here, courtesy of—you guessed it—the U.S. Census.
State with the highest median household income in 2009: New Jersey, $69,272
State with the lowest in 2009: Mississippi, $36,646
1999: New Jersey, $55,146; West Virginia, $29,696
1989: Connecticut, $41,721; Mississippi, $20,136
1979: Alaska, $25,414; Mississippi, $12,096
1969: Alaska, $11,817; Arkansas, $5,356