THE POOREST TOWNS IN US STATES

50 million Americans live in poverty — here are the poorest towns in every US state

Hillsville Main businesses va
A view of Main Street in Hillsville, Virginia. 
Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • Currently, close to 50 million Americans live below the official poverty income of $25,100 a year, or less, for a family of four.
  • Poverty is the most extreme example of financial hardship, but the official poverty rate fails to capture tens of millions of additional Americans who also struggle to make ends meet.
  • Low-income Americans often struggle to afford even the most basic necessities — the towns on this list often have a high SNAP recipiency rates.
  • Centreville, Illinois is the poorest town in the United States, with a town median household income of $16,715.
  • New Square, New York has the highest poverty and SNAP recipiency rates of any town in the United States — 70% of the population lives in poverty.
  • In over half of all towns on this list, more than one in every four residents live in poverty, well above the US poverty rate of 15.1%.

Income inequality is a growing problem in the United States. Perhaps more evident now than in any time in recent memory, conspicuous consumption is juxtaposed with abject poverty in cities and towns across the country. While the rich and poor often live side by side, in some American towns, serious financial hardship is a daily reality for most who live there.

In every state, there are towns where the median household income falls well below the state and national median incomes. In over a dozen states, there are towns in which the typical household earns less than half the income that a typical household statewide earns.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the median annual household income in every American town to identify the poorest town in each state. Even in wealthy states like Maryland and New Jersey there are towns that rank among the poorest in the country.

1. Selma, Alabama

Main_Street_Facades_ _Selma_ _Alabama_ _USA_(33594656114)
41.4% of Selma’s 20,000 residents live below the poverty line. 
Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $23,283
  • State median household income: $44,758
  • Town poverty rate: 41.4%
  • Town population: 19,650

The poorest town in Alabama, Selma also ranks among the 10 poorest towns in the United States. The typical household in the town earns just $23,283 annually, about half the income a typical household in the state as a whole earns. Some 41.4% of Selma’s 20,000 residents live below the poverty line, more than double the statewide poverty rate of 18.4% and the US rate of 15.1%.

 

2. Ketchikan City, Alaska

Ketchikan,_Alaska,_Estados_Unidos,_2017 08 16,_DD_67
The typical Ketchikan household earns $53,937 a year, in line with the typical American household income. 
Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $53,937
  • State median household income: $74,444
  • Town poverty rate: 13.6%
  • Town population: 8,189

With a median annual household income of $74,444 — nearly $20,000 more than the median income nationwide — Alaska is a relatively wealthy state. Even in the state’s poorest town, Ketchikan, the typical household earns $53,937 a year, in line with the typical American household income. Ketchikan’s 13.6% poverty rate is below the 15.1% US poverty rate.

 

3. South Tucson, Arizona

South tucson arizona
South Tucson is the fifth poorest town in the United States. 
Rgper22008/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $20,241
  • State median household income: $51,340
  • Town poverty rate: 48.9%
  • Town population: 5,627

South Tucson is the poorest town in Arizona and the fifth poorest town in the United States. The typical household in the town earns $20,241 a year, and nearly half of all town residents live in poverty. The town is one of only three in the United States in which over half of all households receive government assistance to afford groceries in the form of SNAP benefits.

 

4. Camden, Arkansas

Downtown_Camden,_Arkansas_002
The median home value in Camden is $70,900. 
Brandonrush/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $25,581
  • State median household income: $42,336
  • Town poverty rate: 34%
  • Town population: 11,515

The typical household in Camden earns $25,581 a year, the least of any town in Arkansas. Property values in an area often reflect incomes, and the median home value in Camden is just $70,900. In comparison, the typical American home is worth $184,700, and the median home across Arkansas is valued at $114,700.

 

5. Clearlake, California

Clearlake,_CA,_USA_ _panoramio
9.1% of adults in Clearlake have a four-year college degree. 
Marthlu ParkerV./Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $25,426
  • State median household income: $63,783
  • Town poverty rate: 38.1%
  • Town population: 15,070

With a median annual household income of $25,426, Clearlake is the poorest town in California. Higher education can open doors to higher paying jobs, and areas with fewer college-educated adults often have lower income levels. Just 9.1% of adults in Clearlake have a four-year college degree, less than a third of the statewide bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 32.9%.

 

7. Willimantic, Connecticut

Downtown_Willimantic,_CT_19
In Willimantic, the typical household earns $34,211 a year. 
JJBers/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $34,211
  • State median household income: $71,755
  • Town poverty rate: 29.7%
  • Town population: 17,339

The median household income in Connecticut is $71,755 a year, well above the income the typical American household earns. Not every town in the state is high earning, however. In Willimantic, the typical household earns just $34,211 a year, less than half the statewide median. With a large low-income population, a disproportionate share of Willimantic residents rely on government assistance to afford groceries. Over a third of Willimantic households receive SNAP benefits, well above the recipiency rates for the nation and every other town in Connecticut.

 

8. Smyrna, Delaware

Smyrna_ _panoramio_(1)
Smyrna’s income levels are comparable with the US as a whole in terms of income. 
Patrick Nouhailler/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $53,941
  • State median household income: $61,017
  • Town poverty rate: 8.3%
  • Town population: 11,081

The typical household in Smyrna earns $53,941 a year, the lowest median income of any town in Delaware. Despite ranking as the poorest town in the state, Smyrna’s income levels are comparable with the US as a whole in terms of income. The median annual household income in the town is only about $600 less than the median income nationwide of $53,322.

Compared the poorest town in most states, a smaller than typical share of Smyrna residents live in poverty. Smyrna’s 8.3% poverty rate is below the 15.1% poverty rate across Delaware.

 

6. Sterling, Colorado

Sterling_Public_Library_(old)
The Sterling Public Library is located at 210 South 4th Street in Sterling, Colorado. 
Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $36,282
  • State median household income: $62,520
  • Town poverty rate: 20.4%
  • Town population: 13,976

In Sterling, the poorest town in Colorado, about one in every five residents live in poverty, nearly double the statewide poverty rate of 11.0%. The typical household in the town earns just $36,282 a year, or about $26,000 less than the typical Colorado household and $19,000 less than the typical American household.

Income levels track closely with education levels. Just 15.5% of adults in Sterling have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the comparable shares nationwide and statewide.

9. Brownsville, Florida

brownsville miami florida
Brownsville, Florida is a census-designated place within the Miami metro area. 
Rodrigues with an S/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $19,796
  • State median household income: $48,900
  • Town poverty rate: 42.4%
  • Town population: 15,860

The typical annual household in Brownsville, Florida, which is located within the Miami metro area, is just $19,796, or less than half the comparable median income of $48,900 across the state as a whole. Likely because of the low incomes, a relatively large share of area residents rely on government assistance to buy groceries. An estimated 48% of households in Brownsville received SNAP benefits last year, more than double the 14.8% of Florida households.

10. Cordele, Georgia

McCollum_Building,_Cordele georgia
In Cordele, the typical household earns $23,294 a year. 
Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $23,294
  • State median household income: $51,037
  • Town poverty rate: 49.6%
  • Town population: 11,015

In Cordele, the poorest town in Georgia, the typical household earns just $23,294 a year, or less than half the statewide median income of $51,037. With the lowest income in the state, Cordele also has the highest poverty rate. About half of the town’s 11,015 residents live below the poverty line, well more than double the comparable 17.8% poverty rate across Georgia.

As in many low-income regions, a relatively low proportion of adults in Cordele have a college degree. An estimated 11.5% of adults in the area have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, 29.4% of adults in Georgia and 30.3% of American adults nationwide have a bachelor’s degree.

 

11. Wahiawa, Hawaii

Dole_Plantation,_Plantation_Rd,_Wahiawa_Hawaii
Wahiawa’s median household income is still slightly higher than the $55,322 the typical American household earns annually. 
Robert Linsdell/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $55,744
  • State median household income: $71,977
  • Town poverty rate: 15.4%
  • Town population: 17,696

Hawaii is one of only half a dozen states where the typical household earns over $70,000 a year. Even in Wahiawa, the lowest income town in the state, the median household income is $55,744 a year, which is slightly higher than the $55,322 the typical American household earns annually.

The high incomes across the state are partially offset by a high cost of living. Goods and services in Hawaii are about 19% more expensive on average than they are nationwide.

12. Rupert, Idaho

Rupert,_Idaho_ _panoramio
The median household income in Rupert is $35,011 a year. 
Jordan W./Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $35,011
  • State median household income: $49,174
  • Town poverty rate: 27.4%
  • Town population: 5,702

The median household income in Rupert of $35,011 a year is about $14,000 less than the median income across Idaho as a whole. Less education in Rupert partially explains the town’s low incomes. Fewer than 75% of area adults have a high school diploma, and just 11% have a bachelor’s degree. In comparison, 90% of adults across the state have a high school diploma, and 26.2% have a four-year college degree.

13. Centreville, Illinois

centreville illinois
Centreville is the poorest town in the United States. 
Paul Sableman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $16,715
  • State median household income: $59,196
  • Town poverty rate: 50.1%
  • Town population: 5,127

With a median annual household income of $16,715, Centreville is not only the poorest town in Illinois, but also the poorest in the United States. The median household income in both Illinois and the United States as a whole is more than three times the median income in Centreville. The town is also one of only four nationwide where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

 

14. Brazil, Indiana

West_National_in_downtown_Brazil Indiana
About 31% of households in Brazil receives SNAP benefits. 
Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $29,531
  • State median household income: $50,433
  • Town poverty rate: 31.6%
  • Town population: 8,105

Brazil has the lowest median household income of any town in Indiana. The typical household earns less than $30,000 a year. Likely due to the area’s low incomes the population is relatively dependent on government assistance. About 31% of the town’s households receives SNAP benefits, well above the 12.2% statewide recipiency rate.

 

15. Lamoni, Iowa

Lamoni, Iowa
In Lamoni, more than one in every four residents are below the poverty line. 
Melissa Johnson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $33,393
  • State median household income: $54,570
  • Town poverty rate: 26.1%
  • Town population: 2,616

The median household income in Lamoni is $33,393 a year, the least of any town in Iowa. Lamoni is also one of only two towns in Iowa in which more than one in every four residents are below the poverty line.

In most poor towns across the United States the share of adults with a college education is relatively small, but Lamoni is a notable exception. Some 32.9% of adults in the town have a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the national college attainment rate of 30.3% and the statewide rate of 27.2%.

 

16. Belleville, Kansas

Belleville Kansas
The typical household in Belleville earns $31,885 a year. 
shannonpatrick17/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $31,885
  • State median household income: $53,571
  • Town poverty rate: 13.9%
  • Town population: 1,831

The typical household in Belleville earns just $31,885 a year, the least of any town in Kansas. Despite the low incomes, relatively few residents earn poverty wages or depend on government assistance for basic necessities. Just 13.9% of area residents live below the poverty line, compared with the 13.3% state poverty rate and the 15.1% US poverty rate. Similarly, the 9.2% SNAP benefit recipiency rate in Belleville is in line with the 9.1% statewide rate and below the 13.0% national recipiency rate.

 

17. Glasgow, Kentucky

North_Race_Street_HD_in_Glasgow Kentucky
Glasgow is the only town in Kentucky where the typical household earns less than $30,000 a year. 
Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $28,362
  • State median household income: $44,811
  • Town poverty rate: 26.9%
  • Town population: 14,338

Glasgow is the only town in Kentucky where the typical household earns less than $30,000 a year. Glasgow’s 26.9% poverty rate is also higher than any other town in the state and well above the 18.8% poverty rate statewide — itself one of the higher poverty levels compared with other states.

A high school diploma is a prerequisite for almost any job. In Glasgow, 78.2% of the adult population have a high school diploma, compared to 84.6% of adults statewide.

 

18. Ville Platte, Louisiana

bank Ville Platte Louisiana
Ville Platte’s median household income is nearly a third of the national median income. 
Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $18,679
  • State median household income: $45,652
  • Town poverty rate: 38.4%
  • Town population: 7,338

Several towns in Louisiana have a low enough median household income to qualify as the poorest town in most other states. Ville Platte is the only town in Louisiana where the typical household earns less than $20,000 a year. The town’s median household income is nearly a third of the national median income of $55,322, and less than half the statewide median income of $45,652.

 

19. Eastport, Maine

Boynton_Street_Historic_District,_Eastport,_Maine_2012
Eastport is third poorest town in all of New England 
Ken Gallager/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $33,836
  • State median household income: $50,826
  • Town poverty rate: 18.8%
  • Town population: 1,390

Eastport is the poorest town in Maine and the third poorest town in all of New England. The typical area household earns just $33,836 a year, or about $17,000 less than the median across Maine as a whole.

As is the case in most poor American towns, a relatively large share of Eastport residents depend on government assistance to afford food. Some 23.5% of the town’s population receives SNAP benefits compared to 16.3% of people in Maine as a whole.

 

20. Cumberland, Maryland

Cumberland_Maryland_Station_WM_Rwy_2003
Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country, but Cumberland earns less than half the statewide median income. 
Caseyjonz/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $31,855
  • State median household income: $76,067
  • Town poverty rate: 24%
  • Town population: 20,290

With a median annual household income of $76,067, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country. However, not all parts of the state are high income. In Cumberland, the typical household earns $31,855 a year — less than half the statewide median income and well below the $55,322 the typical American household earns.

The area’s low incomes are reflected in low property values. The typical home in Cumberland is worth $87,700, or less than a third the median home value of $290,400 across Maryland.

 

21. Webster, Massachusetts

webster massachusetts
Compared to most towns on this list, Webster is not especially poor. 
Doug Kerr/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $44,846
  • State median household income: $70,954
  • Town poverty rate: 16.8%
  • Town population: 12,122

With a median annual household income of nearly $71,000, Massachusetts is a relatively wealthy state. Compared to most towns on this list, Webster is not especially poor. The typical Webster household earns $44,846 a year, or about $10,500 less than the typical American household. Additionally, the town’s 16.8% poverty rate — while considerably higher than the 11.4% statewide rate — is only slightly higher than the 15.1% poverty rate nationwide.

 

22. Hamtramck, Michigan

St_Florian_streetscape_ _Hamtramck_Michigan
About half of the population in Hamtramck lives below the poverty line. 
Andrew Jameson/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $23,609
  • State median household income: $50,803
  • Town poverty rate: 49.7%
  • Town population: 21,985

In Hamtramck, the poorest town in Michigan, about half of the population lives below the poverty line. Hamtramck is also the only town in the state where most households earn less than $25,000 a year. Due to low incomes in the area, a relatively large share of residents rely on government assistance to afford food. Some 44.0% of area households receive SNAP benefits, the largest share of any town in the state and more than double the comparable 15.9% recipiency rate across Michigan.

 

23. Bemidji, Minnesota

Bemidji_Carnegie_Library Bemidji Minnesota
24.1% of Bemidji residents live on poverty level income. 
McGhiever/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $33,680
  • State median household income: $63,217
  • Town poverty rate: 24.1%
  • Town population: 14,664

With a median household income of $33,680 a year, Bemidji is the poorest town in Minnesota. A disproportionately high 24.1% of area residents live on poverty level income, more than double the statewide poverty rate of 10.8%.

In most of the towns on this list, educational attainment rates are relatively low, but Bemidji is an exception. An estimated 30.2% of adults in the town have a bachelor’s degree, in line with the 30.3% of adults nationwide.

 

24. Indianola, Mississippi

Indianola_First_Baptist_Church
Indianola, Mississippi, is the poorest town in the poorest state. 
Nicholas Brown/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $26,479
  • State median household income: $40,528
  • Town poverty rate: 31.8%
  • Town population: 10,047

Indianola, Mississippi, is the poorest town in the poorest state. The typical area household earns just $26,479 a year compared to the median income in Mississippi of $40,528 a year and the median income nationwide of $55,322 a year. Because so many residents live on so little, many depend on government assistance to afford food. Some 32.3% of households in Indianola receive SNAP benefits compared to 18.0% of Mississippi households and 13.0% of American households nationwide.

 

25. Mountain View, Missouri

Stone_gas_station,_Mountain_View,_Missouri_LCCN2017707541
More than one in every four residents of Mountain View live below the poverty line. 
ohn Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $23,484
  • State median household income: $49,593
  • Town poverty rate: 26.5%
  • Town population: 2,694

More than one in every four residents of Mountain View, Missouri’s poorest town, live below the poverty line — well above the 15.3% statewide poverty rate. Across the United States, poor towns tend to be home to relatively small shares of college educated adults, and Mountain View is no exception. Just 8.9% of adults in the town have a four-year college degree, one of the smallest shares nationwide and less than a third the comparable 27.6% bachelor’s degree attainment rate across Missouri as a whole.

 

26. Deer Lodge, Montana

Deer Lodge Montana   the grant kohrs ranch national historic site
Deer Lodge has a median annual household income of $37,917. 
Ken Lund/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $37,917
  • State median household income: $48,380
  • Town poverty rate: 11.4%
  • Town population: 3,062

With a median annual household income of $37,917, Deer Lodge is the only town in Montana where the typical household earns over $10,000 less than the typical household in the state. With the state’s lowest median income, Deer Lodge also has the highest SNAP recipiency rate. Some 16.6% of households in the town receive government subsidies to afford food in the form of SNAP benefits. In comparison, 10.6% of households statewide receive SNAP benefits.

 

27. Red Cloud, Nebraska

Red_Cloud_SW Red Cloud Nebraska
The typical home in Red Cloud is worth $48,500. 
Ammodramus/Flickr/CC0 1.0

  • Town median household income: $34,395
  • State median household income: $54,384
  • Town poverty rate: 15.5%
  • Town population: 1,115

The typical household in Red Cloud earns $34,395 a year, about $20,000 less than the typical household in Nebraska. The area’s low incomes are also reflected in the low property values. The typical home in Red Cloud is worth just $48,500, less than a third of the median home value nationwide of $184,700 and less than half the median home value across the state of $137,300.

 

28. Laughlin, Nevada

Laughlin,_Nevada_(17083329150)
Laughlin is best known for its gaming, entertainment, and water recreation. 
Ken Lund/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $32,758
  • State median household income: $53,094
  • Town poverty rate: 18.8%
  • Town population: 7,641

In Laughlin, the poorest town in Nevada, the typical household earns $32,758 a year, more than $20,000 less than the median income across the state. Lower-income towns in the United States tend to be home to relatively small shares of college educated adults, and Laughlin is no different. Less than 15% of adults in Laughlin have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well below the 23.2% of adults with a four-year degree across Nevada as a whole.

 

29. Berlin, New Hampshire

Berlin New Hampshire
An estimated 21.1% of households in the town receive SNAP benefits. 
David Wilson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $38,863
  • State median household income: $68,485
  • Town poverty rate: 19%
  • Town population: 10,154

The median annual household income in Berlin, New Hampshire is $38,863, nearly $30,000 less than the median income across the state as a whole. The large share of low income households means that a larger share of Berlin households depend on government subsidies to afford food. An estimated 21.1% of households in the town receive SNAP benefits, nearly triple the comparable statewide recipiency rate of 7.8%.

 

30. Crestwood Village, New Jersey

Crestwood_Village,_NJ_entrance
Crestwood Village is a census designated place in Manchester Township, New Jersey. 
Mr. Matté/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

  • Town median household income: $28,282
  • State median household income: $73,702
  • Town poverty rate: 9.8%
  • Town population: 8,135

New Jersey’s median household income of $73,702 is nearly the highest of any state in the country. However, not all corners of the state are high earning. In Crestwood Village, more than half of all households earn less $28,300 a year.

Higher education can open doors to higher paying jobs, and areas with fewer college-educated adults often have lower income levels. Just 13.7% of adults in the town have a bachelor’s degree, well less than half the 37.5% of adults statewide with at least a bachelor’s degree.

 

31. Deming, New Mexico

Deming,_New_Mexico,_Deming_National_Bank_bldg_from_E_1
32.8% of households in Deming receive SNAP benefits. 
Ammodramus/Wikimedia Commons/CC0

  • Town median household income: $26,044
  • State median household income: $45,674
  • Town poverty rate: 32.1%
  • Town population: 14,582

The typical household in New Mexico earns just $45,674 a year, nearly $10,000 less than the median household income nationwide. In Deming, the poorest town in New Mexico, the median income is just $26,044 a year. Due to low incomes, a large share of town residents rely on government assistance to afford food. Some 32.8% of households in Deming receive SNAP benefits, well above both the national and statewide recipiency rates of 13.0% and 16.6%, respectively.

 

32. New Square, New York

ramapao, new york   village of new square
The village of New Square is located in the town of Ramapao, New York. 
Famartin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $21,773
  • State median household income: $60,741
  • Town poverty rate: 70.0%
  • Town population: 7,804

New Square is by far the poorest town in New York. The median annual household income of $21,773 in New Square is nearly $5,000 below the that of Kiryas Joel, the next poorest town in the state, and only about a third of the median income across the state as a whole.

Not only is it the poorest town in New York state, but New Square also has the highest poverty and SNAP recipiency rates of any town in the United States. Some 70.0% of New Square residents live in poverty, and 77.1% of area households rely on SNAP benefits to afford food. In comparison, 15.1% of Americans live below the poverty line and 13.0% of households nationwide receive SNAP benefits.

33. Mount Olive, North Carolina

mount olive north carolina pickle festival
Mount Olive hosts the annual North Carolina Pickle Festival. 
NC Pickle Festival/Facebook

  • Town median household income: $26,099
  • State median household income: $48,256
  • Town poverty rate: 33.3%
  • Town population: 4,734

North Carolina is one of the poorer states in the country. The median annual household income in the state of $48,256 is well below the national median of $55,322. As is the case in most poor states, the poorest town, Mount Olive, is not just the poorest in the state, but also one of the poorest in the entire country. Mount Olive, which is located in the eastern central part of the state, has a median household income of just $26,099 a year, just slightly more than half the national median and lower than the median income in all but 25 of the 2,668 towns considered for this list.

 

34. Ellendale, North Dakota

Downtown_Ellendale,_North_Dakota_6 11 2009
In Ellendale, the typical household earns $42,744 a year. 
Andrew Filer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $42,744
  • State median household income: $59,114
  • Town poverty rate: 12.8%
  • Town population: 1,432

There is a great deal of diversity in wealth across towns in North Dakota. The richest town is Williston, with a median household income of over $90,000 per year. At the other end of the state, and the income spectrum, is Ellendale, where the typical household earns $42,744 a year. While the northwest part of the state — which is where Williston is located — benefitted from the shale oil boom that started in the mid 2000s, Ellendale, in the southeast part of the state, largely missed the economic upswing.

 

35. East Cleveland, Ohio

East_Cleveland_City_Hall ohio
Ohio is the nation’s seventh most populous state. 
EurekaLott/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $19,953
  • State median household income: $50,674
  • Town poverty rate: 41.8%
  • Town population: 17,413

As the nation’s seventh most populous state, several of the nation’s most populous metro areas are located in Ohio, including Cleveland. As is often the case with major metropolitan areas, Cleveland has areas of both extreme wealth and severe poverty. Hudson, Cleveland’s wealthiest suburb, has a median annual household income of $126,618. Meanwhile, East Cleveland, just a 45 minute drive from Hudson, has a median annual household income of just $19,953, less than one-sixth that of Hudson.

 

36. Arkoma, Oklahoma

Arkoma_School, Oklahoma
The Arkoma School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the US. 
Valis55/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $26,352
  • State median household income: $48,038
  • Town poverty rate: 34.1%
  • Town population: 1,912

At $48,038, Oklahoma has the 10th lowest median annual household income of any state. To compare, the median household income nationwide is $55,322. The small town of Arkoma is the poorest in Oklahoma, with a median annual household income of $26,352, barely half the state’s figure. More than one-third of the town’s population lives below the poverty line, one of the highest poverty rates not just in the state, but in any American town or city.

 

37. Reedsport, Oregon

Railway_bridge_at_Reedsport,_Oregon
The Umpqua River runs along Reedsport, Oregon. 
Finetooth/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $32,677
  • State median household income: $53,270
  • Town poverty rate: 23.9%
  • Town population: 4,088

Oregon has one of the widest disparities between the richest and poorest towns of any state. The state’s richest area, the Portland suburb Bethany, has a median annual household income of $117,056, which is nearly $85,000 greater than the median income in the state’s poorest town, Reedsport. The low median income in Reedsport is underscored by the high share of residents receiving financial support. More than one in four households in Reedsport receive SNAP benefits, compared to the national recipiency rate of 13% of households.

 

38. Johnstown, Pennsylvania

johnstown pennsylvania
38.8% of Johnstown households rely on SNAP benefits. 
David Wilson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $24,075
  • State median household income: $54,895
  • Town poverty rate: 37%
  • Town population: 20,169

The typical household in Johnstown earns $24,075 a year, less than half the median income of $54,895 a year across Pennsylvania as a whole. Because so many live on low incomes, a relatively large share of Johnstown residents rely on SNAP benefits. The town’s 38.8% SNAP recipiency rate is nearly three times the statewide rate of 13.0%.

 

39. Central Falls, Rhode Island

Central_Falls_Mills_District_Rhode Island
8.7% of Central Falls’ adults have a bachelor’s degree. 
Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $28,901
  • State median household income: $58,387
  • Town poverty rate: 32.7%
  • Town population: 19,366

Central Falls is the poorest town in Rhode Island. The $28,901 median annual household income in Central Falls is less than half that of the Newport East area, the state’s next poorest town, where the typical household earns $59,680 a year. Educational attainment across a population can be an indicator of incomes as a college degree tends to lead to better-paying jobs. Just 8.7% of Central Falls’ adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.3% of the nation’s adults and 32.5% of adults in Rhode Island.

 

40. Belton, South Carolina

Belton_Standpipe South Carolina
The concrete water tower Belton Standpipe stands 155 feet high near the downtown area. 
Bill Fitzpatrick/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $29,329
  • State median household income: $46,898
  • Town poverty rate: 24.3%
  • Town population: 4,296

A high school education is often a prerequisite for any full-time job, high paying or otherwise. In Belton, the poorest town in South Carolina, about one in every five adults do not have a high school diploma. Perhaps not surprisingly, Belton. Belton is the only town in the state where over half of all households earn less than $30,000 a year.

 

41. Vermillion, South Dakota

VermilionSD_PrentisPark South Dakota
Goods and services in the South Dakota are the fourth cheapest of all states. 
Magicpiano/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $31,155
  • State median household income: $52,078
  • Town poverty rate: 35.7%
  • Town population: 10,778

Of South Dakota’s 18 towns and cities with a population of at least 1,000 residents, 13 have a median annual household income below the national median of $55,322. None, however, has a lower typical household income than Vermillion, where the typical household brings in $31,155 annually. One positive for residents of Vermillion and of South Dakota’s other poor areas: money goes further than it would in most other parts of the country. Goods and services in the South Dakota are the fourth cheapest of all states.

 

42. Lafayette, Tennessee

Lafayette Main tn1 Tennessee
68.8% of Lafayette’s adults have a high school diploma. 
Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • Town median household income: $30,586
  • State median household income: $46,574
  • Town poverty rate: 16.4%
  • Town population: 4,909

Educational attainment among a population is often a good indicator of income levels. Lafayette, Tennessee’s poorest town, has one of the least educated populations in the country. Just 68.8% of Lafayette’s adults have a high school diploma, and only 10.1% have a bachelor’s degree. For context, 86.0% of Tennessee’s adults have a bachelor’s degree, while 25.4% of state adults have a four-year college education.

 

43. Fabens, Texas

Our_Lady_of_Guadaloupe_Catholic_Church_in_Fabens,_Texas_LCCN2014630979
Our Lady of Guadaloupe Catholic Church in Fabens, Texas. 
Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $24,612
  • State median household income: $54,727
  • Town poverty rate: 48.8%
  • Town population: 7,168

Fabens is the only town in Texas where over half of all households live on less than $25,000 a year. Fabens’ 48.8% poverty rate is also the highest of any town in the state and nearly three times the 16.7% poverty rate across Texas.

The area’s low incomes are reflected in area property values. The typical home in Fabens is worth just $61,600, less than half the median home value in Texas of $142,700 and about a third of the national median home value of $184,700.

 

44. Brigham City, Utah

Howard_Hotel_Brigham_City_Utah
The Howard Hotel is a historic building in Brigham City, Utah. 
Ntsimp/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $47,675
  • State median household income: $62,518
  • Town poverty rate: 9.7%
  • Town population: 18,586

Utah is one of the wealthier states in the country. Of the state’s 35 towns and cities with populations between 1,000 and 25,0000, all but four have median annual household incomes higher than the national figure of $55,322. Of those, the median income in most is greater than $75,000. Brigham, one of the state’s few low-income towns, the median income is below the national figure. However, with a median income of $47,675 a year, the city is wealthier than all but four towns on this list as well as wealthier than one-third of the towns and cities with between 1,000 and 25,000 residents.

 

45. Bellows Falls, Vermont

Bellows Falls Vermont
In Bellow Falls, 32.5% of households receive SNAP benefits. 
VtWayne/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $31,963
  • State median household income: $56,104
  • Town poverty rate: 22.6%
  • Town population: 3,032

Vermont’s median annual household income of $56,104 is in line with the median income nationwide of $55,322. However, not all parts of the state are as high earning. In Bellows Falls, the poorest town in the state, the typical household earns just $31,963 a year. Due to low incomes, a relatively large share of households rely on SNAP benefits. The 32.5% SNAP recipiency rate in Bellows Falls is more than double the statewide recipiency rate of 13.6%.

 

46. Hillsville, Virginia

Hillsville Town Offices va
In Hillsville, more than one in every four residents live below the poverty line. 
Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • Town median household income: $30,943
  • State median household income: $66,149
  • Town poverty rate: 21.1%
  • Town population: 2,683

Virginia is one of 18 states with a town that has a median household income less than half the statewide median income. In Hillsville, the typical household earns just $30,943 a year, while the typical Virginia household earns $66,149 annually. The poorest town in Virginia, Hillsville is also one of only four towns in the state where more than one in every four residents live below the poverty line.

 

47. Chewelah, Washington

Chewelah Washington
16.1% of adults in Chewelah have a bachelor’s degree or higher. 
DJG/Shutterstock

  • Town median household income: $30,998
  • State median household income: $62,848
  • Town poverty rate: 17.6%
  • Town population: 2,601

In Chewelah, the poorest town in Washington state, the typical household earns $30,998 a year, less than half the median income across the state as a whole of $62,848 a year. Poor parts of the country tend to have fewer residents with a higher education, and Chewelah is no different. Just 16.1% of adults in Chewelah have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than half the 33.6% of adults who do statewide.

 

48. Weston, West Virginia

Weston_West_Virginia
West Virginia is the third poorest state in the country. 
Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

  • Town median household income: $31,739
  • State median household income: $42,644
  • Town poverty rate: 26.2%
  • Town population: 4,085

West Virginia is the third poorest state in the country, with a median household income of $42,644 a year — $12,678 below the national median. Generally, the lowest-income states tend to have the poorest cities in the country, but West Virginia is an exception. The typical household in Weston, the state’s lowest-income town, earns $31,739 each year. While this is certainly low, it is far from the lowest in the country. Well over 100 towns and cities across the country are poorer than Weston.

 

49. Whitewater, Wisconsin

Whitewater_Wisconsin_Downtown_Looking_East
The typical Whitewater household earns $30,934 a year. 
Commonist/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $30,934
  • State median household income: $54,610
  • Town poverty rate: 38.2%
  • Town population: 14,840

Whitewater has both the lowest median household income and the highest poverty rate of any town in Wisconsin. The typical Whitewater household earns $30,934 a year, significantly lower than the median income across the state of $54,610. Additionally, 38,2% of Whitewater residents live in poverty compared to 12.7% of Wisconsin residents. Despite the low incomes, a relatively small share of Whitewater residents depend on government assistance to afford food. Just 12.6% of Whitewater households receive SNAP benefits, in line with the 12.7% recipiency rate across the state.

 

50. Thermopolis, Wyoming

Downtown_Thermopolis_ _panoramio
12.7% of the Thermopolis population lives below the poverty line. 
charkes/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $45,668
  • State median household income: $59,143
  • Town poverty rate: 12.7%
  • Town population: 2,918

Though it is the poorest town in Wyoming, Thermopolis is not as poor as many other towns on this list. The median annual household income in the area of $45,668 is about $10,000 less than the national median household. That income is more than double that of some of the poorest towns in other states, however. Additionally, just 12.7% of the town population lives below the poverty line, slightly higher than the 11.6% state poverty rate but well below the 15.1% US poverty rate.

 

Detailed findings & methodology

For every state except Alaska and Hawaii, the Department of Health and Human Services sets the official poverty income at $25,100 a year or less for a family of four. Currently, close to 50 million Americans live below that threshold. Poverty is the most extreme example of financial hardship, and as such, the official poverty rate fails to capture tens of millions of additional Americans who also struggle to make ends meet.

In 45 of the 50 towns on this list, the poverty rate exceeds the poverty rate across the state as a whole. In over half of all towns on this list, more than one in every four residents live in poverty, well above the US poverty rate of 15.1%. In New Square, the poorest town in New York state, 70% of the population lives in poverty, the highest poverty rate of any US town.

Low-income Americans often struggle to afford even the most basic necessities. Partially as a result, the low income towns on this list often also have a high SNAP — formerly known as food stamps — recipiency rates. This rate measures the share of households that receive SNAP benefits. Only three towns on this list have a lower SNAP recipiency rate than their respective state as a whole. In more than a dozen towns on this list, more than one in every three households depend on government support to afford food.

The low incomes in the towns on this list also often are reflected in property values. People live where they can afford housing, and in low income areas homes are often relatively inexpensive. New Square, New York, is the only town on this list with a higher median home value than the state as a whole.

Both on an individual level and across broad populations, income is closely linked to educational attainment. Earning potential tends to increase with education — those with a bachelor’s degree earn considerably more on average than those with just a high school diploma. Additionally, major companies that offer high-skilled, high-paying jobs are more likely to establish a presence in areas with a well-educated labor pool.

Not surprisingly, educational attainment levels are relatively low in the towns on this list. In 46 of the 50 towns, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher is lower than the corresponding share across the state as a whole. In 22 towns on this list, the share of adults with a four-year degree is less than half the college attainment rate nationwide of 30.3%.

To determine the poorest town in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median household incomes in every town with a population between 1,000 and 25,000 in each state from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Our list includes Census-designated places, which are unincorporated regions that are treated as towns for statistical purposes. All social and economic figures are based on five-year estimates for the period of 2012-2016. To control for potential data errors that can arise in low population areas, we did not consider towns where the margin of error at 90% confidence was greater than 10% of the point estimate of both median household income and population. We considered the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, the share with a high school diploma, the towns’ poverty rates, SNAP benefit recipiency rates, and median home value — all from the ACS. Regional price parity, or cost of living, by state is for the most recent available year from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

IS LIFE AFTER DEATH ?

Is There Evidence of Life After Death

REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.

To listen to skeptics, only the gullible masses believe in an afterlife, desperate to be reunited with loved ones.

As we have shown, however, skeptics are so convinced of their intellectual superiority that they are incapable of examining evidence objectively that contradicts their strongly-held viewpoints.

Unlike the cases for ESP and UFOs, however, the evidence for survival after death is by its nature less measurable and more subtle and complicated.

Militant skeptics would have everyone believe that this is merely anecdotal and easily explained away by the biochemistry of the dying brain, pumped up by morphine and stress, with the particular hallucinations the result of a combination of wishful thinking and religious preconception. But as we shall see, this view ignores some inconvenient facts.

While looking at several types of relevant experiences, I will only focus on the issue of immediate survival after death, not theological assertions about what happens beyond that, such as whether there is a heaven or hell or reincarnation. Nor will we try to resolve here exactly what it is that may survive death.

One way to think about the larger picture of reality that the so-called supernatural presents is like the difference between the world of ordinary objects we interact with daily and the invisible quantum world that underlies everything. It is difficult for our minds to get around the fact that what seems like solid reality is mostly empty space. Skeptics are invited to imagine that the paranormal world is something like the theorized other dimensions of the “multiverse.”

Death-Bed Visions

Let us begin with something that should be a perfect test for the skeptical case about hallucinations of the dying: death-bed visions. It is not uncommon for people who are about to die to imagine that the heavens open up and relatives appear to welcome them to the other side.

In What They Saw at the House of Death: A New Look at Evidence for Life After Death by Karlis Osis, a noted physics professor, and Erlendur Haraldsson, a clinical psychologist. Between them, they had carefully examined 5,000 cases of death-bed visions for nearly two decades starting in 1959. These were culled from observations by 17,000 physicians and nurses. Most were medical personnel in the U.S., but some came in from a separate study about patients in India, to check to what extent cultural and religious beliefs influenced the experiences.

Investigative journalist Michael Schmicker, in Best Evidence, summarized the remarkable conclusions:

Biological-Pharmaceutical Factors

*Patients who were given painkilling drugs were not more likely to have such visions than those who were not.

*Brain malfunctions were more likely to reduce such visions.

*A history of using psychoactive drugs did not increase the likelihood of these visions.

*There was no evidence that a lack of oxygen induced the visions.

Psychological Factors

*Stress played no role in predicting which patients would see “the dead.”

*Whether the patient believed in an afterlife did not matter.

*In some cases, the death-bed visions came to people who did not know they were dying.

Cultural Factors

*The visions often did not fit with the religious preconceptions of the individuals. Christians saw no evidence of hell; Hindus had no visions that confirmed they would be reborn.

*There were 11 aspects to these visions that were shared by both American and Indian cases, so they are likely common to many cultures.

Schmicker cited a compelling example. In 1919, Horace Traubel, a friend and biographer of the poet Walt Whitman, was dying in Bon Echo, Ontario, Canada. With him was Lt. Col. L. Moore Cosgrave. Cosgrave reported that at 3 a.m., Traubel stared at a point in the room three feet above the bed.

“A light haze eventually resolved itself into the form of Whitman…wearing an old tweed jacket, an old felt hat, and had his right hand in his pocket,” which Cosgrave could see. The apparition nodded twice to Traubel, who said, “There is Walt.” As the ghost brushed by him, Cosgrave felt a slight electric shock.

Near-death Experiences

Near-death experiences” (NDEs) was the term coined by Dr. Raymond Moody, a physician who wrote the first popular book on the phenomenon, Life After Life, in 1975. He studied cases of patients who were pronounced clinically dead, but claimed they could see and hear things that seemed impossible, according to the materialist understanding of reality.

A 1982 Gallup poll revealed that one out of seven Americans had at least once been close to dying and 35% of these reported having the NDE. These experiences would seem fairly common, but were not generally reported by physicians, which is explained by the fact that only 32% of doctors at the time believed in an afterlife vs. 67% of the public.

While the specific details of the experience would be interpreted by the person who was supposedly dead, based on his or her cultural and religious background, the most common stages occurred in this order:

*A sense of dying as a release from cares and pain.

*The patient feels he or she is rising from the body and able to look down on it

and the attending medical personnel.

*This self or spirit is compelled to pass through a dark tunnel with light at the

end.

*Beings of light greet the spirit at the end of the tunnel—often these are deceased

family or friends and sometimes a person understood as a founder or leader of their religious tradition (atheists reported an abstract figure of light).

*As many as 29% recalled having their life’s events flash through their memories,

as if reviewing them before judgment.

*Many wanted to stay in this disembodied state, but were told they needed to return.

*Consciousness returns to the body, startling medical personnel, who had pronounced the patient dead.

Moody’s initial report has been confirmed in thousands of cases investigated by others. The International Association for Near-Death Studies www.iands.org was founded in 1978 to encourage the serious study of the phenomenon.

Skeptics are quick to argue that all of these things can be explained by incorrect judgments about clinical death and by the combined effects of a sick brain and the drugs administered at the time.

Among the most notable books to take a more systematic scientific approach to anecdotal evidence were by medical doctors Kenneth Ring, in Life at Death, and Michael Sabom, in Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation.

Sabom in particular was skeptical. He accepted the critics’ theory that NDEs were hallucinations due to heightened brain activity and was surprised to realize that they occurred most commonly in patients who had been unconscious for at least 30 minutes, when neuroactivity was reduced.

He believed that claims that these “dead” patients had accurately described what was happening around them were easily explained by hearing medical personnel discussing them or that they were educated guesses.

Sabom set up a control group of cardiac patients who had not reported having NDEs. He found the NDEers’ accounts very accurate, while the guesses of cardiac patients were way off, and he was able to rule out the possibility in many cases of the “dead” picking up the information by hearing it.

Doctors at Southampton General Hospital studied 3,500 patients and concluded that cases of NDEs being reported involved “well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains were shown not to function,” contradicting the materialistic view of how the brain works.

Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE

The most famous of modern NDEs was recounted in the 2012 bestseller by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, in Heaven is Real: A Doctor’s Experience with the Afterlife (a good example if skeptics’ inability to state the facts in their rebuttals can be found in a response to an article in Esquire: http://iands.org/news/news/front-page-news/970-esquire-article-on-eben-alexander-distorts-the-facts.html). He went into a seven-day coma after suffering from microbial meningitis in 2008 and had an experience that ran counter to his expectations. He recalled:

I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences…I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God and I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better.

When I entered the emergency room, my chances of survival in anything beyond a vegetative state were already low, but they soon sank to near nonexistent. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body was unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline.

All the chief arguments against near-death experiences suggest that these are the results of minimal, transient, or partial malfunctioning of the cortex. But mine took place not while my cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off. This is clear from the global cortical involvement documented by CT scans and neurological examinations. According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.

_______________________________________________________________________

A 2001 study reported in the British medical journal The Lancet reported that the NDEs could not be explained by reactions to medications, a lack of oxygen to the brain, or fear of death.

Perhaps most convincing is that patients are able to report events outside the room where their bodies were. For example, some claimed that their spirits went into the waiting room and heard conversations between family members, which they recalled accurately. Given the skeptics’ position on ESP, this should be impossible.

In 1990, Seattle pediatrician Melvin Morse’s Closer to the Light examined the cases of 120 children who had NDEs. In most cases, they would have been too young to have absorbed a well-grounded religious expectation of what might happen. He made a point-by-point refutation of the skeptics’ arguments about the biochemistry of death and hallucination, compelling enough to have persuaded some skeptics to take a more open-minded position.

In Beyond: On Life After Death, Fred Frohock attempted to weigh the evidence objectively and concluded:

The problem with the materialist explanation that NDEs are a purely neurological reaction to the stress of death is that we would have to stretch the powers of the brain to new and unproven levels of achievement. The weight of the likelihood, of possibilities, seems to be in favor of transcendent experiences, although NDEs could be both transcendent and part of the physical world.

The brain may be the instrument that guides the self into a realm of existence as real and empirical as the dimension we currently occupy. All we have to do is move the perimeters of physical reality out to more comprehensive dimensions. Death is as ordinary as birth, and may be the same kind of portal to another empirical stage of life. Physicists tell us there must be more dimensions to reality to explain the reality we sense and know.

In Dr. Andrew Newberg’s Teaching Co. course The Spiritual Brain, he cites the impact these experiences have on those who go through them: “People come away from a near-death experience with a radically altered set of beliefs about themselves, the meaning of life, relationships—everything. They no longer fear death and are more spiritual and less religious. Many say things like, ‘I don’t think there is a God; I know there is a God.’ One said that the experience was ‘bigger’ than religion, which was not sufficient to help encapsulate the NDE.”

Out-of-Body Experiences

But some aspects of the NDE mimic other experiences, such as the phenomenon known as an out-of-body experience (OBE). While the NDE is involuntary, the OBE may be a spontaneous occurrence or it could be something the individual wills.

While this is not a direct indicator of survival of death, it does provide evidence that humans consist of something other than a body: a “spirit” that can separate from it under certain conditions while the body remains alive.

Such experiences have been recorded around the world throughout history, often by shamans who claim to have gone into the “spirit world” to receive guidance. In a study of 70 non-Western groups by D. Shiels for the Journal of Psychical Research in 1978, the core experiences of being able to leave the body voluntarily were very similar, despite major cultural differences.

I interviewed Scott Rogo, the highly-regarded parapsychologist, in June 1990. Two months later, he was murdered and my interview appeared in the December issue of Fate magazine. I particularly admired his hardheaded approach to the field, always skeptical about easy explanations for so-called paranormal phenomena. He had his first book published at 19 and by the time of his death at 40, had written 29 others.

One of these was Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection (another name for intentional OBEs). In addition to recounting many credible experiences of people able to describe distant events as they hovered over them, Rogo had lots of personal knowledge. He had trained himself to leave his body and once while out of town, returned in spirit to his home to find his roommate had someone visiting. He confirmed this when he came back from the trip.

In his Psychic Breakthroughs Today, Rogo reviewed some of the best anecdotal collections by people who had repeated experiences with this, such as Sylvan Muldoon’s The Case for Astral Projection and Dr. Robert Crookall’s The Supreme Adventure. It appears that 10-20% of the population almost anywhere in the world has had at least one OBE.

Rogo also discussed lab experiments to induce these experiences. Noted psychologist Dr. Charles Tart at the University of California at Davis, for example, in the 1960s had subjects fall asleep and try to prove they had left the body by viewing a number that was placed out of sight.

In some cases, Tart found that when the individual later reported being out of the body, brain waves showed strange activity that indicated he or she was neither asleep nor awake.

One of his most notable clinical subjects was Robert Monroe, who went on to write the classic memoir Journeys Out of the Body. During one experiment, Monroe’s spirit went into the hallway and accurately reported that the lab technician who was supposed to be monitoring him was there talking to someone else.

Another set of experiments were conducted at Duke University by Dr. Robert Morris. His most outstanding subject was Keith Harary, who would later become a parapsychologist himself. Rogo called the system of testing him “ingenious” and the results “stunningly successful.”

A study of those who claimed to have undergone OBEs was supported by the University of Kansas Medical Center and the renowned Topeka-based Menninger Foundation. They compared these who had these experiences with those who did not claim to have had them. “They could not find any specific personality characteristics differentiating people who experience the phenomenon from those who do not,” wrote Rogo.

Finally, Rogo also considered the credible anecdotal evidence that some saints and mystics of a variety of religions have had the ability to be more than one place at once, known as bilocation. This could be either as an apparition or seemingly having their body in both places at the same time. In Miracles, Rogo (who had no religious affiliation), provided the thought-provoking documentation. But it is not likely a lab will be able to test this phenomenon.

Ghosts

The most commonly reported evidence for human afterlife is the encounter with apparitions of people who are dead.

“Ghosts are a universal phenomenon, seen again and again without end by people of every culture, religion and country,” wrote Schmicker in Best Evidence. “They have been reported for thousands of years by people from every economic, educational, and social strata. They have been seen by kings and peasants, hamburger-flippers and nuclear scientists, aborigines and bank presidents, doctors and laborers, by famous people and by average citizens, by men and women and children of every age and sex.”

In 1882, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was founded in England to support a scholarly investigation of such phenomena.

Four years later, its first report was published, a two-volume, 1,400-page summary of 700 cases (edited and updated by Eleanor Sidgwick in 1923 in the revised edition of Phantasms of the Living).

One of the cases occurred on Dec. 7, 1918, involving a Lt. David McConnel, a pilot trainee who was flying to an airbase when he crashed and died at 3:25 p.m. At about that time, his roommate, Lt. J.J. Larkin, claimed to have him in the pilot lounge and reported that McConnel told him he “had a good trip,” then left.

Fifteen minutes later, a friend of the two came into the lounge and wondered when McConnel would be back so they could all go to dinner together. Larkin informed him that McConnel had already returned, but they could not locate him.

Later that night, they learned of his death and informed their commander of the experience, as well as writing his family a detailed letter about it.

The best example of a ghostly haunting of one location cited by Schmicker is Borley Rectory in Essex, England. From 1863 until it burned down in 1938, there were some 100 persons who were witnesses to seven different ghosts and a variety of related phenomena. Harry Price’s The Most Haunted House in England: 10 Years’ Investigation of Borley Rectory details the strange happenings.

Mediums

One of the most sensational books on evidence for the survival of the human soul after death was the 2002 bestseller The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., and William L. Simon. Schwartz is a professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Arizona, a graduate of Harvard and former director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, with 450 published scientific papers. His credentials did not make his report any less controversial.

Schwartz and his colleagues conducted clinical tests on a handful of so-called psychic mediums, including Allison DuBois (the inspiration for the TV series “Medium”), John Edward (who also had a TV show), George Anderson, Suzane Northrop, George Dalzell, Anne Gehman, and Laurie Campbell.

The 374-page book details not only the precautions taken to prevent fraud and statistical analysis of the possibilities of chance in the results, but his responses to the charges of professional skeptics (including James Randi and Ray Hyman, whose criticisms of ESP experiments we cited earlier).

In the early 1990s, I was trying to find a legitimate medium—someone who could “channel” messages from the dead for the living—for reports in Fate (which was making an effort to avoid printing just any psychic’s claim and was counting on my experience as a business reporter to screen for the better ones). Frankly, I could not find many, but there were a few.

One was Bevy Jaegers, a St. Louis psychic with a particular skill known as psychometry. That is the ability to handle an object and psychically pick up information related to it. For example, she would touch a piece of clothing a victim had been wearied when murdered and would have images of the crime flash before her. In its peculiar way, this was receiving “messages from the dead.”

When I visited with her, she set up a number of meetings and phone calls with law enforcement officials who had worked with her on 50 murder cases. We began to collaborate on a book about her work, but my more mundane career was skyrocketing and we did not have time to finish it before she died (and yes, mediums do not generally get warnings about their demise). But the experience did convince me that she had been largely accurate and was certainly not a fraud.

I had read what the skeptics had to say about the medium James Van Praagh, who had a TV show at the time, so I went to his “group reading” very well-armed (for the same reason that I prepared to expose Uri Geller).

I took careful notes on whether his information, allegedly from the dead for loved ones in the audience, was accurate and was surprised that most of it did seem to be. There appeared to be a few misses and there were some things that could not be verified at the time.

In our follow-up interview, we discussed the views of his critics. I cannot say for sure that he has never cheated, but as I mentioned previously, there is evidence that some seemingly genuine psychics have tried to “improve” their results.

As part of my research, I also went to a “séance” conducted by Edward one Halloween. I was convinced he was a fraud at the time, not because I could prove it, but what he did seemed like nothing more than a parlor trick in the dark. After reading The Afterlife Experiments, I had to have a more open mind about his achievements.

I also had studied George Anderson previously, including watching him in a TV documentary and reading his 1989 bestseller, We Don’t Die. I think it is fair to say that if there is one medium whose accuracy has been repeatedly confirmed by thousands of readings, Anderson is it.

Of the others in the Schwartz book, I had two personal readings by Laurie Campbell. The first turned out to be surprisingly accurate in looking into my past and forecasting the future, while the second, five years later, did not even hit the target. This was, I had learned, not atypical of even the best (as Rogo observed, psychic talent seems to operate like an unreliable electrical connection that frustrates those who claim to have such abilities).

I do not put much stock in getting reliable information from any medium, but for those who want comfort without being gullible, it is worth getting a reading from any of those purported to be the best, without thinking it will be infallible revelation.

Another interesting source on mediums is Victor Zamit’s A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife. It pulls together a huge amount of information for every kind of “evidence” of the hereafter, although I am a skeptic about the New Age channeling examples. Spirits, I have become convinced, love to promote specific belief systems that contradict each other.

Animal Apparitions

Finally, I would like to consider something that would not seem to provide much promise of credibility, but is one of my specialties: encounters with animal ghosts. I recounted 125 cases in The Soul of Your Pet: Evidence for the Survival of Animals After Death (dozens of others that came in after the third edition in 1998 will be included in the next version of Animals and the Afterlife by Kim Sheridan).

The understandable skeptical response to this notion is that anecdotes that claim that people saw their dead pets are clearly based on wishful thinking. That would make some sense, since many people grieve severely when they have bonded with a companion animal for 10 or 20 years.

The trouble with this theory is that it does not explain most of the stories I reported. I really had no idea what I would receive when I sent a request for information from readers of veterinary professional journals and publications about the paranormal.

The most striking thing about most of the stories was their credibility:

*Many witnesses were not the owner of the pet encountered, so a desire to see it

played no role.

*Other cases involved multiple witnesses, so the events were not simply one

person’s hallucination.

*Some involved more than one sense—the witness not only had a sustained view

of the dead animal, but could hear or feel it, making it less likely they were simply imagining the event.

*Some witnesses were veterinarians, doctors, psychologists and other

professionals who would be expected to take a more objective attitude than most people.

*Many stated they had never had a paranormal experience of any kind before or since the event and others said they were not religious in any way (virtually no one said their religious background taught that animals have spirits, although an ABC News/Beliefnet poll showed that 43% of Americans believe animals go to heaven, while 17% are unsure; 40% disbelieve, including both those who religious views deny that any animal has a spirit and those who do not believe in the supernatural at all).

*Perhaps the most intriguing cases were those that involved the reactions of other animals, making it apparent that these incidences were not simply figments of human imagination. For example, one evening a witness reported that she was at home with her two cats, watching TV on a couch. Suddenly, what appeared to be her recently deceased third cat came out of the kitchen and walked across the living room, then went right through the closed bedroom door. The two living cats had gone to the edge of the couch to stare at the ghost as it walked by them, then when it disappeared, they ran up to the bedroom door and stood there briefly before running away. They refused to go into the bedroom for months thereafter.

The point is that if there is evidence that even some animals have an afterlife, that makes it all the more likely than humans survive death.

The likelihood of human survival of death does not explicitly provide evidence for God or any particular religious philosophy. However, it would be evidence that the global phenomenon of belief in the supernatural has a grounding in some kind of alternate reality that deserves more study.

In the next section, we will look at whether nature and history provide evidence for the benevolent God of traditional religion.

HIGHEST PAYING CAREERS

By: A. Santiago

1. Surgery

surgeon team

There’s a good reason that the professionals involved in surgery have some of the highest pay rates of any career – they do surgery. It’s well deserved, too, seeing as surgeons, anesthesiologists, and OBGYNs literally hold lives in their hands – and need a good 10-12 years of higher education to get qualified to do the job, from college to medical school to a residency (sometimes up to 4 years). Each of these jobs is expected to see thousands of job openings in the next decade, and their unemployment rate is, simply, nil.

Median Salary:

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon – $355,864
Anesthesiologist – $278,016
Surgeon – $254,329
Obstetrician and Gynecologist – $207,177

Education Level: Doctorate

2. Psychiatrist

therapy session maleThe doctors who care for our mental health, like the ones who put us to sleep and cut out our tumors, also make quite a healthy salary. Psychiatrists (as opposed to psychologists) go to medical school, spend years in residency, and have the responsibility of prescribing medicine, which requires more years of schooling, and often requires a more demanding workload than a psychologist. The psychiatrist approaches mental health as a component of physical health, and therefore gets paid a medical doctor’s salary. With more than 3000 projected jobs in the next decade, though, there’s room for more.

Median Salary: $194,507
Education Level: Doctorate

3. Physician/Specialist

doctor thinkingWhen you say you’re “going to the doctor,” 9 times out of 10 you mean a physician – a medical doctor who has been trained in general care for people. As with the other highest-paying jobs, physicians spend a lot of time in school, working in residencies, and just working in general – hours for a physician are long and demanding. In exchange for the sacrifice of time, physicians make a lot of money, with general practitioners making income approaching $200,000, and even more for specialists.

Median Salary:

Physician – $173,953
Pediatrician – $145,141
Podiatrist – $124,868

Education Level: Doctorate

4. Oral Medicine

dental technician e1522037883716It’s impossible to overestimate how important oral health really is. Diseases of the mouth can often be crucial, overlooked signs of larger issues, while poor oral hygiene can cause many other diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and dementia. While many Americans neglect their oral health, the people who are responsible for it make a well-deserved high salary. Dentists make around $125,000, while orthodontists can make as much as $170,000. They’re jobs that require many years of schooling, and face it – few people are cut out for looking in mouths all day.

Median Salary:

Orthodontist – $168,921
Prosthodontist – $151,723
Dentist – $125,464

Education Level: Doctorate

5. Nurse Anesthetist

operation anesthesia e1522034771924While anesthesiologists are some of the highest-paid medical professionals, nurse anesthetists do pretty well for themselves too. An advanced practice nursing speciality, nurse anesthetists do pretty much what anesthesiologists do – administer anesthesia, monitor vitals – but they are required to do it under the supervision of a medical doctor. A master’s degree and a certification (CRNA) are required to work as a nurse anesthetist, and nurse anesthetists are generally expected to do the work of nurses as well, including aftercare. Their median 6-figure income is certainly well-earned.

Median Salary: $139,829
Education Level: Doctorate

6. Computer Network Architect

computer techBusinesses in the 21st century rise and fall on their communication, and the computer network architect is a crucial part of keeping communication going. The computer network architect designs data communication networks, which may be as small as one company’s intranet, to vast cloud networks. It’s a job with a huge amount of responsibility, and more than a few years of schooling (at least a master’s degree, in most cases); no one becomes a network architect without numerous years of experience, either.

Median Salary: $116,408
Education Level: Master’s

7. IT Manager

IT ManagerGenerally speaking, an IT Manager is in charge of the IT department at a corporation or organization, working in a position of authority and responsibility over the technicians and analysts who keep an organization’s computer networks running. While you may work your way up from entry level to manager, in most cases an IT manager will need specialized education. An IT manager not only needs to be fully versed in the technology, but also in management skills and techniques, which may require a master’s degree. For the years of education and vital responsibility, an IT manager can expect over $100,000 per year.

Median Salary: $114,603
Education Level: Master’s

8. Pharmacist

medicationsIn many ways, pharmacists are unsung heroes of the medical field; doctors may prescribe medicines, but it’s the pharmacist who makes sure patients get the right dose, in the right form, when they need it. To become a pharmacist, you need a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree, as well as licensure from your state Board of Pharmacy. That comes down to many stressful hours of schooling, internship, study, and practice before getting to work as a professional, and while the job itself is fairly low-stress, it also carries a lot of responsibility and a salary to match.

Median Salary: $110,405
Education Level: Doctorate

9. Petroleum Engineer

oil rig It’s a simple rule of thumb that any occupation with “engineer” in the title is going to be well-paid, and that’s especially true for Petroleum Engineer. From fuel to plastics, modern life runs on petroleum, and the experts who have the applied scientific knowledge to optimize production, manage drilling sites, design equipment, and implement strategies earn their keep. Petroleum engineers need several years of highly specialized post-bachelor’s education, and work conditions may be extreme (oil and mild climates just don’t tend to go together) – both good reasons for high pay.

Median Salary: $100,583
Education Level: Master’s

10. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse OccupationThese days, you’re far more likely to see a nurse practitioner than an MD when you go to your family clinic, and that’s a good thing. Most of the time, an NP can do anything a doctor can do, having learned most of the specialized knowledge that doctors learn, but they also have the hands-on experience and expertise – and bedside manner – of a nurse. In fact, in half of the US, nurse practitioners don’t even need the supervision of a doctor. NPs need a Master of Science in Nursing degree, as well as state licensure, to practice, and aspiring NPs should know the hours are just as long as nursing, with even more responsibility. The pay, though, helps make up for worn-out feet.

Median Salary: $91,697
Education Level: Master’s

11. Physician Assistant

Charge Nurse and DoctorPhysician assistants make up one of the most crucial aspects of the healthcare system, because in many cases they are the difference between medical care and no medical care. The education for PAs comes close to that of medical doctors, ending at the master’s level, and PAs are qualified to examine, diagnose, and treat patients. In many rural and underserved areas without doctors, PAs are instrumental in providing medical care. While their pay rate is not as high as a full medical doctor’s, a physician assistant does not go unappreciated.

Median Salary: $91,348
Education Level: Master’s

12. Nurse Midwife

baby midwifeThere are many specializations for advanced practice nurses, but Nurse Midwife is one of the most rewarding, in more ways than one. For women who want the comforting and less invasive care of a midwife, with the assurance of modern medicine, a nurse midwife is the best of both worlds. To practice, nurse midwives need a Master of Science in Nursing and licensure, and in most states nurse midwives must work under the supervision of an OBGYN. For the most part, though, nurse midwives are fully in charge of the birthing room and the care of pregnant women and their babies, and their salaries reflect that responsibility.

Median Salary: $89,158
Education Level: Master’s

13. Actuary

3 business chartsActuarial science is a highly specialized area of accounting that combines accounting, statistics, and business; actuaries use all that expertise to analyze risk for insurance companies, banks, government agencies, and more. Besides a lot of study and several years of higher education, it’s a job that very few people really have the mind for. For those who can do the math, an actuary is one of the best jobs out there for job security, workload, and pay rate. Since it’s a challenging niche, there are never enough actuaries, meaning a well-trained actuary can pretty much write their own ticket.

Median Salary: $83,620
Education Level: Master’s

14. Lawyer

lawyerIt’s easy for laypeople to say there are too many lawyers, but that’s willfully forgetting just how critical lawyers are for just about every aspect of business, government, entertainment, healthcare, and more. Lawyers protect the accused from injustice, keep businesses on the straight and narrow, help families manage their assets in life transitions, and provide legal counsel when someone has been wronged. Lawyers need a Juris Doctor degree and licensure from their state Bar Association to practice, and their long hours, high stress, and big responsibility is repaid in a high median salary.

Median Salary: $81,648
Education Level: Doctorate

15. Operations Research Analyst

analystThere’s a simple reason Operations Research Analysts make a high salary: math. To put it simply, operations research analysts use mathematics, statistics, and data to analyze business problems and create solutions. That may mean anything from making changes to the supply chain, to organizing products in a store for higher sales, to optimizing human resources. Since it’s a highly technical field, the education and skill set creates an automatic barrier to entry, so unemployment is low, job projections are high (growing by 27%), and median salary is stable and satisfying.

Median Salary: $77,118
Education Level: Master’s

16. Veterinarian

VeterinarianVeterinarian is high up on the list of jobs kids want when they grow up, but it isn’t all petting fluffy animals. Vets care for household pets, certainly, but they also care for zoo animals, farm livestock, and endangered species in captivity. They’re a crucial part of keeping the food supply healthy, preventing overpopulation of stray animals, and even researching climate change’s impact on wildlife. Veterinarians must earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine, which can take anywhere from 4 to 6 years, and be licensed in their state; some specializations may take even more education and certification.

Median Salary: $75,363
Education Level: Doctorate

17. Construction Manager

construction managementSome occupations are perennial, and construction is one. Construction may go through phases, depending on the economy, and some areas of construction may be seasonal, but one thing is for sure – people are always building. A good construction manager will never be out of work for long, whether it’s residential or commercial, government contracting or private sector. Construction managers may work their way into the job through experience, but a bachelor’s or master’s degree can provide skills and expertise that add to experience and help earn higher salaries.

Median Salary: $74,388
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

18. Psychologist

helping hands comfort hands peopleUnlike a psychiatrist, a psychologist is not a medical doctor, but an academic doctor. A psychologist may earn a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or PhD in Psychology; the primary difference is if you plan to work directly with clients as a therapist, or to work in education and research. Psychologists may find themselves in all kinds of workplaces and environments, from clinics and laboratories to business and marketing firms. Salary rates can fluctuate, depending on where a psychologist works, and in what capacity, but the high level of expertise and wide range of applicability gives psychologists a high median salary.

Median Salary: $73,921
Education Level: Doctorate

19. Business Operations Manager

saving business schoolThe Business Operations Manager is the point person, the one who oversees the day to day operations of businesses large and small, troubleshooting problems, motivating employees, and communicating with the higher-ups. It’s a position that strong employees might work their way into through promotions, but these days, professional competition can be fierce; a higher degree like an MBA or Master’s in Management can be the key to making it. Strong managers can not only count on a high median salary, but opportunity to break through to the executive suite.

Median Salary: $72,988
Education Level: Master’s

20. Statistician

analytics big data studentAny college student who has eked out a passing grade in a statistics class will tell you – anyone who can handle statistics is worth their weight in gold. Because it is a highly specialized skill set, statisticians are in high demand in a wide variety of fields – finance, insurance, technology, entertainment, healthcare: you name it, there’s a place for statisticians. The education level necessary for a career in statistics varies, but a master’s degree will usually provide the expertise and adaptable skills that a statistician can carry into any number of career paths.

Median Salary: $71,550
Education Level: Master’s

21. Database Administrator

database techIn the era of Big Data, Database Administrators are among the most important members of any corporate team. Database administrators design and build databases for customer information, organizational data, financial information, and any other kind of information that their organization needs to function. They are also responsible for protecting that information, and making sure it is useful and accessible. The importance of database administrators, and their high level of specialized education, translates to a sizable salary level.

Median Salary: $71,458
Education Level: Master’s

22. Industrial Psychologist

human resourcesOnce upon a time, organizational management was a matter of instinct, experience, and luck. Today, Industrial Psychology has made a science of the workplace, applying the insights of psychology to interoffice behavior, consumer behavior, decision-making, assessments, and other business concerns like ethics and law. Industrial psychologists need at least a master’s degree in psychology, and preferably a specialization in the field, though a doctorate may increase your career potential.

Median Salary: $71,437
Education Level: Master’s

23. Information Security Analyst

hacking codeIn the information age, one of the greatest dangers to businesses, governments, and individuals is cybercrime. Hacking of personal data, financial data, and government information has become one of the main threats to security, and with the growth of Big Data and more life being lived online, criminals will continue to capitalize on weaknesses. That makes Information Security Analysts some of the most important people in any organization. The people who keep networks and information protected need to combine a strong education with deep and diverse experience, making their salary expectations higher as well.

Median Salary: $70,522
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

24. Financial Manager/Analyst

business statsThe job of a Financial Manager is to oversee the financial operations of a business, such as maintaining proper records, writing reports and white papers, and making sure that finances are in order. A Financial Analyst, on the other hand, analyzes a businesses finances, such a investments, cash flow, and returns, to make recommendations on what has worked in the past, and the best way forward. Both jobs require a business degree, preferably a master’s, and both are growing at an above average rate, with solid median income and potential.

Median Salary:

Financial Manager – $70,095
Financial Analyst – $58,646

Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

25. Software Developer

big data computer dudeA Software Developer oversees the whole development process of a computer program, from determining problems to be solved or customer desires to be met, to leading a team of programmers, to getting a product on the market. Some developers work primarily as managers, while others work directly in programming, depending on the complexity of the project. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a similar speciality may be useful, though for management many companies will want a master’s; however, in many companies, experience is more important than any education.

Median Salary: $69,411
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

26. Physical Therapist

medical studentWhen an injury, age, or sickness keeps you from moving effectively, where do you turn? To the Physical Therapist, that’s where. Physical therapy is one of the fastest-growing specializations in healthcare, with jobs expected to increase by 28% in the next decade. There’s lots of reasons for that, including more active adults and a huge number of aging Baby Boomers, but it’s also simply because we understand the benefits better. A physical therapist needs a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and a state certification to practice.

Median Salary: $69,169
Education Level: Master’s/Doctorate

27. Mechanical Engineer

electrical engineeringMechanical engineering is one of the most hands-on engineering occupations, rooted in the long history of applied science. Mechanical engineers design and build mechanical devices, from tools and engines to thermal sensors and nanotechnology. To begin a career as a mechanical engineer, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field is a must; it’s highly specialized, and needs not only a deep level of education, but a lot of practical, experiential learning. You may also need a certification or license in your state.

Median Salary: $68,588
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

28. Radioactive Medicine

xray techRadioactive medicine technicians – including Radiation Therapist, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Radiologist, and MRI Technologist – are some of the best-paying jobs you can get with just an associate’s degree, and they play an important part in modern medicine. Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments for cancer patients to shrink and destroy tumors; Nuclear Medicine Technologists prepare and administer the radioactive drugs used in imaging, and operate imaging equipment; Radiologists operate X-Ray equipment, while MRI Technologists operate MRI imagine equipment. The highly specialized – as well as rather risky – nature of the job means that radiation therapists and nuclear medicine technologists must be exceptionally well-trained. The job also carries its fair share of stress and difficulty, so they are generally well-paid, well above average for other jobs of the same education level.

Median Salary:

Radiation Therapist – $68,563
Nuclear Medicine Technologist – $65,702
Radiologic and MRI Technologist – $62,976

Education Level: Associate’s

29. Computer Systems Analyst

IT Manager 1While the Network Architect (#6 above) is the person who designs and implements networks for businesses, it’s the Computer Systems Analyst who examines the structures in place and finds ways to improve them. The systems analysts understands both the needs of the business, and the capabilities of the system, and comes up with ways for the two to work at their maximum efficiency and effectiveness. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science is the way into the field, but experience will make the biggest difference in a successful career as a systems analyst.

Median Salary: $66,910
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

30. Compliance Officer

black male lawyerThe Compliance Officer is one of the most important positions in any major corporation, though they’re not necessarily the person executives want to see come calling. The compliance officers’ job is to make sure a business is operating within proper legal and ethical boundaries, and that a company is keeping up with regulations, industry standards, and internal policies. In other words, the compliance officer keeps a company out of trouble, and even if no one wants to get an email from their compliance officer, they’re well-rewarded in pay for such a critical job.

Median Salary: $65,368
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

31. Occupational Therapist

female medical workerOccupational Therapy is closely related to Physical Therapy (#26 above), in that both are dedicated to helping people recover and improve their capabilities after injury or sickness. However, occupational therapists work in a broader scope, helping patients relearn or develop everyday skills, such as feeding, dressing, or cleaning themselves; they may also work with disabled children to teach them self-care skills. Occupational therapists need at least a master’s degree, rather than a doctorate, and must be licensed in the state where they practice.

Median Salary: $64,747
Education Level: Master’s

32. Medical and Health Services Manager

health administratorWithout a doubt, healthcare is the field to be in if you want job security, high salaries, and the ability to help people as well, but not everyone is cut out for nursing or medicine. Fortunately, Medical and Health Services Managers can capitalize on the explosive growth in the healthcare industry, without having to encounter explosive growths in the emergency room (sorry). A bachelor’s or master’s degree in management is a good start, and specialized healthcare management degrees have become quite common – and are often available online.

Median Salary: $64,702
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

33. Orthotist and Prosthetist

prosthetic2When patients need medical support devices, whether that means artificial limbs, braces, eyes, or other orthotics, they turn to Orthotists and Prosthetists. These are the professionals who build and fit prosthetics, helping patients find the right devices to improve their mobility, independence, and quality of life. An orthotist or prosthetist needs a master’s degree in the field, as well as a residency, and in many states a certification or license is also required to practice. The field is changing every day, and the specialized knowledge and skills of an orthotist/prosthetist is well compensated.

Median Salary: $64,568
Education Level: Master’s

34. Civil Engineer

construction designCivil Engineers are well-educated, well-respected, and well-paid, and well they should be – they’re the ones who turn our infrastructure from idea to reality. Civil engineering is as old as civilization, and their job hasn’t changed much, even as the tools and capabilities have; they design, build, and maintain buildings, bridges, tunnels, waterworks, and every other structure that makes civilized life possible. A civil engineer needs at least a bachelor’s degree, but leadership positions will be more in reach with a master’s, and experience is key to reaching the highest levels of responsibility and income.

Median Salary: $63,955
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

35. Marketing Manager

computer marketingIn the 21st century, half of business is marketing. We just made that up, but as far as anyone can tell it’s true; competition in just about every field is so intense, building a strong brand may be the only difference between dominance and disappearance. A Marketing Manager oversees the marketing operations of a corporation, business, or organization, leading marketing campaigns and making sure that the employer or client’s marketing stays on-brand. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in management will provide the skills to lead teams, analyze and make marketing decisions, and craft successful campaigns.

Median Salary: $62,741
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

36. Registered Nurse

nursesRegistered Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, the people who do the crucial one-on-one work with patients in hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, and every other healthcare facility. To become an RN, you need an associate’s degree in nursing (from a community college or nursing school) or a hospital diploma, and pass the NCLEX exam to be licensed as a registered nurse in your state. There is no shortage of jobs, and pay rates can be quite high, especially in specialized areas like ER, neonatal, or oncology department.

Median Salary: $62,007
Education Level: Associate’s

37. Epidemiologist/Medical Scientist

lab worker female samplesDoctors and nurses work directly with patients to treat their illnesses and injuries, but where do the knowledge, treatments, and therapies they use come from? It’s the researchers behind the scenes who help medical professionals know what treatments work, how diseases spread, and how to prevent illness and injury. Epidemiologists study population and geographical trends to understand the spread of disease, while Medical Scientists study medications, diseases, medical devices, and other aspects of medicine from a scientific perspective. At least a master’s degree, and often a doctorate, is the standard for working as an epidemiologist of medical scientist.

Median Salary: $61,693
Education Level: Master’s/Doctorate

38. Chiropractor

chiropractorThe doctors who manipulate your spine and joints to relieve chronic pain get paid quite well, and wouldn’t you want them to? A Doctor of Chiropractic degree requires many hours of residency and many years of schooling, and the job itself is a lifesaver to many patients experiencing pain. Chiropractors must be licensed in the state where they practice, but because they do not perform surgery or prescribe medications, they are usually able to operate more independently than most doctors. Many own their own practice and set their own hours, making chiropractic not only a rewarding job financially, but personally as well.

Median Salary: $59,880
Education Level: Doctorate

39. School Psychologist

school kidsSchool Psychologists do not get paid as much as psychologists with their own private practice – let’s get that out of the way right away. But they are essential to modern education, providing services that help keep schools healthy and safe for students and faculty alike. School psychologists help students with mental illness and disabilities find the support they need; they provide counseling for grieving or distressed students; they address school-wide issues like bullying, motivation, and discipline; and they are at the center of crisis intervention and prevention. Individuals who want to make a difference in students’ lives as a school psychologist will need a master’s or doctorate degree, and usually need state licensure.

Median Salary: $59,419
Education Level: Master’s/Doctorate

40. Speech-Language Pathologist

speech therapySpeech-Language Pathologists are trained in diagnosing and treating issues that affect speech and swallowing, from stroke and Parkinson’s in adults, to hearing loss and autism in adults and children. To become a speech-language pathologist, you will need at least a master’s degree in the field to learn the foundations of speech pathology, and the treatments you will be using. All states require some sort of licensure, and further certification may be necessary to work in schools.

Median Salary: $59,245
Education Level: Master’s/Doctorate

41. Financial Advisor

money saving business schoolHaving more money than you know what to do with is a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem. Financial advisors come to the rescue for families who need help sorting out finances after the death of a loved one, making investment decisions, managing retirement, and more. At least a bachelor’s degree is necessary to get a job as a financial advisor, but more specialized master’s or certificate work can help you stand out on the job market. More schooling can also give you the confidence to strike out on your own as an independent consultant, or help you start your own firm.

Median Salary: $58,672
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

42. Web Developer

Graphic DesignerWeb Developers make the internet what it is, designing and building websites and pages to work at their best. While web developers may design the look of sites, they are more often responsible for the technical functioning of the site (especially if they are working in a team that includes a web designer). Developers must be well-versed in the most common programming languages for the web, and keep up with new developments as well. A bachelor’s or master’s degree can be helpful for getting work in the field, but certifications, continuing education, and workshops may be more important for staying current.

Median Salary: $58,030
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

43. Technical Writer

grad student outdoor studyTechnical Writers do the unglamorous writing – user’s manuals, instructions, directions, business documents, and all of the other necessary writing that makes the world go round. A good technical writer should have the research and technical skills to write about any topic, product, or process; if they don’t know about it when they start the job, they’ll know as much as an expert by the time they’re done. A bachelor’s or master’s degree proves that you have the expertise, but nothing will get you farther in technical writing than experience, and a portfolio of excellent work.

Median Salary: $57,755
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

44. Sales Manager

young business manA good salesperson is hard to find, but a good sales manager is even tougher – someone with the skills to be a top salesperson on their own, but with the interpersonal and managerial skills to lead a team of salespeople. A good sales manager brings out the best in their team, finding and hiring the right people and motivating them to higher goals. Most managerial positions will expect a bachelor’s degree as a minimum to apply, but nothing makes a great sales manager like experience.

Median Salary: $56,667
Education Level: Bachelor’s

45. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

SonographerLike radioactive medicine technicians (#28 above), Diagnostic Medical Sonographers are some of the best-paid jobs you can get with just an associate’s degree. Sonographers operate sonogram and ultrasound machines, which use high-frequency sound to create images of internal organs and tissues. Sonographers may work with pregnant women, in cardiovascular units, in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics, and other environments where sonography is used. With just a 2-year degree, diagnostic medical Sonographers can make more than $50,000 a year, and even upwards of $60,000 or $70,000.

Median Salary: $53,692
Education Level: Associate’s

46. Political Scientist

hospital admin mph womanThese days, everybody’s a political scientist – or, at least, everybody thinks they are, whether they really know what they’re talking about or not. But real political scientists are a little more well-read and knowledgeable than the average internet troll, having been through a master’s or doctoral program studying and researching the political process. Political scientists study policy, trends, voting patterns, and other political topics, and usually work for the government, in education, or for nonprofits and lobbying organizations, where their expertise can be put to practical use.

Median Salary: $53,566
Education Level: Master’s/Doctorate

47. Dental Hygienist

dental technician e1522037883716Dental Hygienists join that esteemed group of associate’s-degree occupations that can earn a high salary and relative job security. In fact, there aren’t nearly enough hygienists to keep up with market demand – the job is expected to grow by 20% over the next decade, by more than 40,000 jobs. While they don’t have the expertise (or make the salary) of dentists, hygienists do most of the heavy lifting and interaction with patients, so it’s a good job for people who like working directly with people. Just an associate’s degree and certification or licensure is all that a dental hygienist needs.

Median Salary: $53,297
Education Level: Associate’s

48. Cost Estimator

construction managementCost Estimators have a very specific job, and it’s one that happens to be a lot harder than you may initially think: they have to figure out how much a project is going to cost. To be specific, cost estimators working in construction, business, government, or other fields have to research and analyze data to determine what it will take to, for example, build a building or implement a new policy: the time, materials, manpower, and expenses. That takes a lot of specialized knowledge, and usually at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, finance, business, or a more industry-specific discipline (construction management, for example).

Median Salary: $53,066
Education Level: Bachelor’s

49. Clinical Social Worker

hot coedWhere non-clinical social workers may help clients with issues like finding a job or getting to rehab, a Clinical Social Worker is a much more intensive, working with individuals and families to confront drug addiction, domestic violence, mental illness, and more in a clinical (as opposed to community) setting. A clinical social worker should have a master’s degree and be certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and will usually work in a hospital, rehabilitation facility, or some similar place. Their higher level of education and responsibility means clinical social workers are generally paid much more than non-clinical social workers.

Median Salary: $52,234
Education Level: Master’s

50. Dietitian and Nutritionist

my plate usdaBefore the chorus of “Well, actually…”; yes, we know – Dietitians and Nutritionists are two different jobs. Registered Dietitians are licensed to provide detailed dietary advice and produce meal plans for clients, while Nutritionists (even certified nutritionists) can only provide general nutritional and dietary advice – not tell anyone what they should or should not eat. Therefore, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians. However, the BLS treats them the same way, and regardless of which you call yourself, it’s a fast-growing, in-demand occupation, and that shows no slowing down in the future.

Median Salary: $51,464
Education Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s

THE 25 RICHEST CITIES IN AMERICA

When you tally up the 25 richest cities in America, California has eight

Samuel Stebbins
24/7 Wall Street

Incomes climbed faster in 2017 for the typical American household than they have in years. The median household income of $60,336 in 2017 marked a 4.7% increase from the previous year – more than doubled the 2.1% inflation rate over the same period.

The 2017 median household income of $60,336 marks a historic high and generally means greater wealth and buying power than  in recent years. Clearly, however, incomes are not even nationwide, and while some areas are undoubtedly poorer, in dozens of thriving American cities, the majority of households earn over 20% more than the national median.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed median household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 381 U.S. metro areas to identify the 25 richest American cities. Though spread across the country, from New England to Alaska, the cities on this list tend to have much in common.

The vast majority of these cities are home to a well-educated, highly skilled workforce. Nationwide, 32.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and in all but a handful of cities on this list, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate is greater. Many of the cities on this list rank as the most educated city in their state.

With a wide talent pool to draw from, these cities are attractive places for major companies to do business, particularly those in the traditionally high-paying technology sector. Several cities on this list have near-nation leading concentrations of high-tech jobs. Being a magnet for major employers has the added benefit of reducing unemployment. In the majority of cities on this list, the unemployment rate in March was below the 3.8% national rate the same month.

Austin-Round Rock, Texas.

25. Austin-Round Rock, TX
• Median household income: $73,800
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 9.7%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 44.8%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.7%

The typical household in the Austin-Round Rock metro area earns nearly $74,000 a year, about $13,500 more than the typical American household. Some of the largest employers in the metro area include high-paying tech companies such as Dell, IBM, Amazon, and Apple. Partially as a result, employment in traditionally higher paying-industries like information, and professional, scientific, and management is more concentrated in Austin than the vast majority of U.S. metro areas.

The unemployment rate in the Austin metro area stands at just 2.7%, well below the 3.8% national March unemployment rate – which itself is near historic lows.

24. Midland, TX
• Median household income: $75,266
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 8.5%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.1%

Midland, Texas, is one of only 24 U.S. metro areas where most households earn at least $75,000 a year. Texas is by far the leading oil and natural gas producing state – and Midland is an oil city. Of the metro area’s labor force, 18.5% work in resource extraction, the largest share of any U.S. metro area and more than 10 times the industry’s 1.7% employment concentration nationwide. Energy tends to be a higher-paying field.

Midland sits on top of the Permian Basin, an expansive West Texas oil field that stretches about 300 miles long and 250 miles wide. With access to one of the largest oil fields in the United States, Midland is home to major operations of energy giants like Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Halliburton.

23. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
• Median household income: $75,368
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 13.2%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.9%

Home to over 20 million people, New York is by far the most populous metro area in the United States. With a median annual household income of $75,368, it is also one of the wealthiest. A significant 13.2% of households in the metro area earn at least $200,000 a year, a larger share than in all but six other metro areas nationwide. The high incomes are due in part to the city’s status as a global financial hub, home to high-paying employers in the finance industry, including firms like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.

Income inequality is a bigger problem in New York than most other American cities. The poverty rate in metro area of 12.8% is higher than nearly every other city on this list.

22. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
• Median household income: $76,207
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 10.9%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 38.8%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.7%

California is one of the most expensive states in the country, with goods and services costing 14.4% more on average than they do nationwide. In many parts of the state, incomes are high partially to offset the higher living expenses, and San Diego is one of eight California metro areas on this list.

The typical household in San Diego earns $76,207 a year, well above the state and national median annual household incomes of $71,805 and $60,336, respectively. Some of the largest employers in the city include higher-paying health care giants Sharp Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, and Scripps Health.

21. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
• Median household income: $76,643
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 9.5%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 43.9%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.9%

The typical household in the Denver metro area earns $76,643 a year, the second most of any city in the state and more than in all but 20 other cities nationwide. Incomes tend to increase with educational attainment, and in Denver, 43.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32% U.S. bachelor’s degree attainment rate.

Major employers in the area include a wide range of companies in high-paying sectors like defense, finance, and technology. These companies include Charles Schwab, VMware, Oracle, Amazon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

20. Fairbanks, AK
• Median household income: $76,747
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 6.8%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 6.4%

The typical household in Fairbanks, Alaska, earns $76,747 a year. The metro area’s relative prosperity is underscored by the small share of residents facing serious financial hardship. Just 2.8% of Fairbanks households earn less than $10,000 a year, nearly the smallest share of any U.S. city and well below the 6.5% share U.S. households.

Both Fairbanks and Anchorage – the only two metro areas in Alaska – rank on this list. Alaska as a whole is a relatively high-income state, partially due to the state’s permanent fund, which every year pays all residents a share of the state’s revenue from oil.

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin.

19. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
• Median household income: $76,856
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 9.2%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 41.7%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.6%

Minneapolis-St. Paul is the only metro area in the Midwest to rank on this list. The typical Twin Cities household earns nearly $77,000 a year, about $16,500 more than the typical American household. Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and not only is Minneapolis one of the wealthiest metro areas in the country, but also it is one of the best educated. About 42% of adults in the metro area have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32% share of American adults nationwide with similar education. Several Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, Best Buy, and UnitedHealth Group, are headquartered in the metro area.

18. Anchorage, AK
• Median household income: $76,871
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 8.1%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 6.3%

The typical Anchorage household earns $76,871 a year, more than the median income in all but 17 other metro areas nationwide. Unlike nearly every other metro area on this list, Anchorage has a weak job market. As of March, 6.3% of the metro area’s labor force was unemployed, well above the 3.8% national jobless rate. The area’s higher than average incomes area are due in part to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend paid to every resident annually. The payment amount fluctuates from year to year, and in 2018, eligible Alaskans each received $1,600.

The area’s high incomes are partially offset by a high cost of living. Goods and services are 9.2% more expensive in Anchorage than they are nationwide.

17. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
• Median household income: $77,133
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 8.8%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 4.6%

Vallejo-Fairfield is one of several metro areas in California’s San Francisco Bay area to rank on this list. The typical metro area household earns $77,133 a year, about $17,000 more than the typical American household.

Unlike nearly every other city on this list, Vallejo-Fairfield residents are less likely to have a four-year college degree than the typical American. Just 26.6% of metro area adults have a bachelor’s degree compared to 32% of American adults. The lower than average bachelor’s degree attainment rate is likely related to the kinds of jobs in the area. For example, 9.3% of area employees work in construction, which often has fewer higher-education requirements. This share is a far larger share than in most cities and well above the 6.6% national concentration.

16. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
• Median household income: $77,394
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 10.1%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.5%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.9%

With a median annual household income of $80,776, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country. Wealth in the state is largely concentrated outside of major metropolitan areas, and even though Baltimore-Columbia-Towson ranks among the wealthiest cities in the country, its median household income of $77,294 is lower than the statewide median.

The high incomes in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson metro area and other parts of Maryland are partially attributable to both public and private sector contractor jobs in nearby Washington D.C.

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland.

15. Manchester-Nashua, NH
• Median household income: $78,769
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 9.7%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 37.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.6%

Manchester-Nashua is the wealthiest metro area in New Hampshire and the third wealthiest in the broader New England region. The typical area household earns $78,769 a year, about $5,400 more than the typical household in the state and $18,400 more than the typical American household.

Contributing to the area’s high incomes is a favorable job market. Just 2.6% of the metro area’s labor force is unemployed, well below the 3.8% national unemployment rate.

14. Trenton, NJ
• Median household income: $79,173
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 15.3%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 43.9%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.5%

Trenton, New Jersey’s capital, is the only metro area in the state to rank on this list. The typical household in the metro area earns $79,173 a year, about $19,000 more than the typical American household.

Like many metro areas on this list, Trenton is home to a well-educated labor force and has a favorable job market. Nearly 44% of adults in the metro area have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to just 32% of American adults, and the city’s unemployment rate of 3.5% is well below the national unemployment rate of 3.8%.

13. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
• Median household income: $79,705
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 15.6%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.2%
• March 2019 unemployment: 6.9%

The typical household in Santa Cruz-Watsonville earns $79,705 a year, more than the median income in all but a dozen other metro areas nationwide. The metro area sits directly south of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay, a region containing several other metro areas on this list.

The metro area’s high incomes are largely offset by the area’s high cost of living. Goods and services in the Santa Cruz metro area are about 25% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average. Accounting for cost of living, the typical household’s buying power is equal to about $63,900, only slightly more than the national median annual household income of $60,336.

12. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI
• Median household income: $80,183
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 9.2%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.0%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.8%

Hawaii is a relatively high-income state, and both metro areas in Hawaii rank on this list. In Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, the typical household earns $80,183 a year, nearly $20,000 more than the typical American household.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina has a strong job market. Just 2.8% of the area’s labor force is unemployed, well below the 3.8% national unemployment rate. Many of those jobs are in tourism, a major industry in the state. Of all workers in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, 27.4% are employed in the entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services industry, nearly triple the industry’s 9.7% employment concentration nationwide.

Santa Rosa, California.

11. Santa Rosa, CA
• Median household income: $80,409
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 10.3%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.8%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.3%

Santa Rosa is a metro area of half a million people located about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Most households in the metro area earn over $80,000 a year, and one in every 10 households earns at least $200,000. Like most other high-income cities, Santa Rosa is expensive. The cost of goods and services is about 21% higher than average in Santa Rosa, and as a result, the buying power of the typical household income is only about $66,500, only marginally higher than the national median annual household income of $60,336.

10. Boulder, CO
• Median household income: $80,834
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 13.2%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 63.2%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.5%

Boulder is the wealthiest metropolitan area in Colorado and the 10th wealthiest nationwide. Most households in the metro area earn over $80,000 a year, and 13.7% of households earn at least $200,000 a year – a larger share than in all but six other metro areas nationwide.

Like many metro areas on this list, Boulder is home to a well-educated labor force and a favorable job market. Nearly two-thirds of adults in Boulder have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to less than a third of American adults, and the city’s unemployment rate of 2.5% is well below the national unemployment rate of 3.8%. Major employers in the metro area include high-paying tech companies like Google and IBM.

9. Urban Honolulu, HI
• Median household income: $81,284
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 10.6%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.7%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.7%

Urban Honolulu is the wealthiest metropolitan area in Hawaii and the ninth wealthiest nationwide. Most metro area households earn at least $81,000 a year, and more than one in every 10 households earn at least $200,000 a year. The area’s high incomes are reflected in the high property values. The typical home in the Honolulu area is worth $680,200, more than triple the value of the typical American home of $217,600.

Incomes are boosted by a healthy job market. Just 2.7% of area workers are unemployed, over a full percentage point below the 3.8% national unemployment rate – which itself is near a historic low.

8. California-Lexington Park, MD
• Median household income: $81,495
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 9.6%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.8%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.7%

California-Lexington Park, Maryland, is located at the end of a small peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, south of Washington D.C. It is the wealthiest metro area in the wealthiest state. The typical metro area household earns $81,495 a year, and the typical Maryland household earns $80,776, each well above the national median household income of $60,336. The area also lacks the kind of financial hardship that is much more common in the rest of the country. Only 3.2% of area households earn less than $10,000 a year, less than half the 6.5% comparable national share.

7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
• Median household income: $82,133
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 12.0%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 41.9%
• March 2019 unemployment: 4.1%

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is the wealthiest metro area on the West Coast outside of California. Most households in the metro area earn at least $82,000 a year, and 12% of households earn at least $200,000 annually. The metro area is home to a well-educated workforce – nearly 42% of metro area adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher – and to a number of high-paying companies. The largest employers in the Seattle metro area include Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft.

6. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
• Median household income: $82,857
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 12.2%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.4%
• March 2019 unemployment: 4.0%

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura is a metro area of about 850,000 just north of Los Angeles. The typical household in the area makes nearly $83,000 a year, $22,500 more than the typical American household. Most homes in the metro area are worth over half a million dollars, making the area prohibitively expensive for many lower-income Americans. Just 3.1% of households in the metro area earn less than $10,000 a year compared to 6.5% of households nationwide.

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire,

5. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
• Median household income: $85,691
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 14.6%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 47.6%
• March 2019 unemployment: 2.7%

Boston is one of only five U.S. metro areas where most households earn at least $85,000 a year. Incomes tend to go up with educational attainment, and nearly half of all adults in the Boston metro area have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The well-educated population is partially attributable to the high concentration of colleges and universities. Post-secondary institutions in the metro area – which include Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern – awarded over 104,000 degrees in 2016 alone.

The metro area also has a strong job market, with an unemployment rate of just 2.7%. Major employers in and around Boston include General Electric, Massachusetts General Hospital, and government contractor MITRE Corporation.

4. Napa, CA
• Median household income: $86,562
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 12.4%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.2%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.5%

Napa is one of three California metro areas to rank among the five wealthiest American cities. A small city of less than 150,000, Napa is located just north of the San Francisco Bay – a region home to several other metro areas on this list. Most households in Napa earn at least $86,500 a year, and 12.4% of households earn at least $200,000.

Napa has global recognition as a wine-making region, and local wineries and the tourism they attract make a significant contribution to the economy. Of all workers in the area, 3.4% are employed in agriculture, double the 1.7% national concentration. Additionally, 13.7% of workers are employed in accommodation and food services, well above the 9.7% national share.

3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
• Median household income: $91,198
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 20.4%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 47.1%
• March 2019 unemployment: 4.1%

Though Bridgeport proper is a relatively poor city, the broader Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area is the wealthiest metro area in New England and the eastern United States. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk is one of only three U.S. metro areas where most households earn over $90,000. Additionally, more than 20% of metro area households earn at least $200,000 a year compared to just 6.9% of American households. Much of the metro area is within commuting distance of high-paying jobs in and around New York City.

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
• Median household income: $101,714
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 21.4%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 49.3%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.0%

San Francisco is one of only two U.S. metro areas where the majority of households earn over $100,000 a year. Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and San Francisco also has one of the best educated populations of metro areas in the country. Nearly half of all adults in the metro area have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 32.0% of adults nationwide.

Likely due in part to the city’s talent pool, San Francisco is a hub of high-paying employers offering high-skilled positions. Financial services companies Charles Schwab and Wells Fargo are both headquartered in the city, and tech giants like Dropbox, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all within commuting distance. The city’s extremely high cost of living also relates to its high salaries. Goods and services cost, on average, 25% more in the metro area than across the country.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
• Median household income: $117,474
• Households earning $200,000 or more: 25.7%
• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 50.8%
• March 2019 unemployment: 3.0%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara – commonly referred to as Silicon Valley – is far and away the wealthiest metro area in the United States. The typical area household earns $117,474 a year, at least $15,000 more than every other metro area and nearly double the $60,336 median annual household income nationwide. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is also the only U.S. metro area where one in every four households earns at least $200,000 a year.

The region earned its nickname because of the high concentrations of tech-startups in the area. Today, tech giants headquartered in the area like Facebook and Google are among the best-paying companies in the country.