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15 U.S. states where you need to earn more than $70,000 to make ends meet

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The cost of making ends meet can vary by as much as $80,000, depending on which state you live in, a new analysis finds.

The median annual living wage — defined as the minimum amount you need to cover expenses while saving for retirement  — is $61,617 per household in the U.S., according to calculations by personal finance website GOBankingRates.

However, in the 15 states with the highest threshold for a living wage, you'll need to earn $70,000 or more to cover expenses. Out of 50 states, the highest living wage is $132,912 in Hawaii and the lowest is $51,754 in Mississippi.

Here's a look at the 15 states with the highest living wage thresholds:

  1. Hawaii: $132,912
  2. New York: $101,995
  3. California: $94,778
  4. Massachusetts: $86,480
  5. Alaska: $85,083
  6. Oregon: $82,926
  7. Maryland: $82,475
  8. Vermont: $78,561
  9. Connecticut: $76,014
  10. Washington: $73,465
  11. Maine: $73,200
  12. New Jersey: $72,773
  13. New Hampshire: $72,235
  14. Rhode Island: $71,334

These states tend to have higher costs for homes, taxes, food, health care, utilities and transportation. Compared to other states, the remote islands of Hawaii have a limited supply of land and higher import costs for goods, which accounts for its No. 1 ranking.

The silver lining is that, generally, people living in these states tend to get paid more. All of the 15 top-ranked states have household incomes above the national median of $65,712 — with the exception of Maine, which is $63,440 — according to 2020 data provided by the St. Louis Federal Reserve. 

Most of these states have a median household income in the $70,000 to $90,000 range, with Maryland's median household income of $94,384 leading the pack. Of course, many people in these states are paid a minimum wage and earn less than $31,200 per year, based on a 40-hour work week — well below the threshold of a living wage.

GOBankingRates defines "living wage" as the income you'll need to cover necessary and discretionary expenses while still contributing to retirement savings.

Estimates for these expenses were calculated using the most recent consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis then uses the 50/30/20 rule, which divides income by 50% for necessities like rent or food, 30% for discretionary expenses like going to a movie, and 20% for savings or investments. Salary data is from a 2020 study, so those numbers might be slightly higher now, due to wage inflation

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