The Top One Percent Income Levels By State

A top 0.01% income earner's yacht
A top 0.01% income earner's yacht

The Economic Policy Institute came out with a interesting report that chronicles the top one percent income levels by State. To save you the hassle of reading the whole report, let me share with you some of their charts, and my own thoughts on the subject for your review.

The EPI is a liberal, non-profit think tank based in Washington DC, which has been around since 1986. The entire goal of their report is to highlight the rising income inequality between the rich and poor over the decades.

I think they've succeeded in making a point that the government should do more to redistribute wealth to make society more equal. We all know the wealthy have gotten really wealthy during this bull market given they hold the majority of stocks and real estate in our country. The middle class and poor have fallen behind because income growth has gone nowhere over the past 45 years.

Let's have a look at the top one percent income levels by state and discuss five key takeaways.


Here are the top 1% income levels by state. Overall, a top one percent income level in America in 2023 begins at $652,657. I've used this top one percent income level to craft a top one percent net worth by age guide.

top one percent income levels by state today

Key Takeaways From The Top 1% Income By State Map

1) The East Coast Dominates.

The top five highest one percent income states all reside on the East and West Coasts! Connecticut ($954K), New Jersey ($817K), Massachusetts ($903K), New York ($776K), California ($844K). Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey are explainable due to Manhattan being one of the largest financial centers in the world.

Massachusetts has top tier universities, research centers, and large money managers. But MA is somewhat surprising given real estate is so much cheaper than in many parts of New York, New Jersey, DC, and California. DC is also explainable because there are so many private industries just feeding off tax payer money. If you want to make big money, move to the northeast.

2) Live In The Best State And Make The Most.

The most beautiful state in America, Hawaii, is also one of the lowest top one percent income states at about $490K. Hawaii is the 40th ranked state for a top one percent income level. Other states at the bottom of the top one percent include Arkansas, New Mexico, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and Idaho. 

One can take the low end range of the top one percent incomes as a positive in that one's dollar goes much farther in these states. But given I am keenly aware of how much everything costs in Hawaii, since I've been going back home for 37 years, one's dollar definitely does not go farther in Hawaii vs. the majority of other states. If you want to make big money, consider going to school and finding a job in other states with larger industries.

3) Natural Resources Help.

North Dakota has an incredible $552K income for the top one percent due to its oil boom. But given oil prices have collapsed by 50% in one year, the $552K figure is probably going to decline. There are many six figure jobs in commodity industries because they are tough jobs, which may be dangerous as well.

4) Texas Is A Mixed Bag.

Texas, despite its brutal heat, looks like a fantastic place to live and earn money. With no state taxes, Texas and its $600K top one percent income is tops among all the no income tax states.

The other no tax income states are Nevada (~$670K), Alaska (~$530K), Florida ($700K), Wyoming (~$680K), Washington (~$780K), and South Dakota ($680K). A good plan is to make your money in the northeast, transfer to one of the seven no income tax states, or retire in one of the seven no income tax states.

Out of the seven no income tax states, Florida is considered to have the best weather and lifestyle. Nevada is also gaining in popularity.

In 2023, Texas was ranked the worst state to live and work. Therefore, money is not the only thing. Be objective, but also realize the subjectivity of these rankings.

5) Inflation is a killer.

The national average for the top one percent income earner is roughly $650,000 according to the IRS and yours truly. Looking at all the top one percent income earners by state, $650,000+ looks about right for the nation. Back in 2014, a top one percent income was closer to $380,000.

A top 0.1% income is over $1 million a year. While a top 1% net worth starts at $13 million. Therefore, inflation really is a killer. Everyone must save and invest aggressively to beat inflation.


Share of income held by top one percent

This chart shows that the top 1% really began to soak up all the income growth starting in 1980. The top one percent got slaughtered during the dotcom collapse, but not as much in the housing collapse, given housing is a smaller percentage of the top one percent's wealth. Housing is the majority of the middle class's net worth in comparison.

I highly recommend you take a look at my post on the recommended net worth allocation mix by age to get an idea of how to diversify your wealth. It's important that we all diversify our net worth so that no one event can take us down.

Going from 10% to roughly 23% of all income by the one percent is pretty aggressive in 35 years. The rise coincides with the rise in technology that has made gathering assets so much quicker and easier than ever before.

One should therefore consider working in a career that leverages technology, or use technology to build wealth in as many avenues as possible. And if you want to get rich, you might as well try and get really rich. If so, you'll get even more privileges than you already have.


It's nice to make top one percent income, but it's not sustainable for an entire career because top one percent income is generally made up of working income.

When I was working in finance, I was putting in 60-70 hour weeks. I was constantly stressed about my revenue production. You don't get paid if you don't produce on Wall St. In fact, you'll probably get fired in one of the most competitive industries on the planet.

There are plenty of occupations that allow for people to earn top one percent income with a tremendous amount of education, longevity, and hard work. But the real money is not in being a working class citizen.

Take a look at the chart below of the difference between the top 1% income threshold and the top 0.01% income threshold. The top 0.01% income threshold is outrageous! We're talking about people making way more than a million dollars a year.

Top 0.01% Income

I have a friend who is the CEO of a mid-cap publicly traded company who makes a reasonable $250,000 a year salary. But he pulls in over $15 million a year due to the recurring Restricted Stock Units he receives.

He works just as hard as any doctor, lawyer, or banker, but he makes 30X more than a $500,000 a year income earner. Entrepreneurship or inheriting money from an entrepreneur parent is the only real way to make the mega bucks.

Invest In Real Estate To Boost Passive Income

Real estate is my favorite way to boost passive income and grow rich. Real estate is a tangible asset that is less volatile than stocks, generates rental income, and provides utility. For most middle-class Americans, investing in real estate is the best way to grow wealth.

Today, you can invest in not just physical real estate, but private real estate online. I've personally invested $954,000 in private real estate to diversify my expensive San Francisco holdings and earn more 100% passive income.

Best Private Real Estate Investing Platforms

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 400,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. These cities also have higher growth potential due to job growth and demographic trends. 

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.


Invest In Private Growth Companies

Finally, the top one percent income earns tend to get richer by owning businesses. Consider investing in private growth companies through an open venture capital fund. Companies are staying private for longer, as a result, more gains are accruing to private company investors. Finding the next Google or Apple before going public can be a life-changing investment. 

Check out the Innovation Fund, which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI!

The investment minimum is also only $10. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. You can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. Traditional venture capital funds require capital commitment first and then hope the general partners will find great investments.

The Top One Percent Income Levels By State is a Financial Samurai original post. Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter here to build more wealth and gain more financial knowledge.

70 thoughts on “The Top One Percent Income Levels By State”

  1. Rachel Feldman

    Thank you. I’m going to check out Empower, especially as I’m trying to figure out how to invest money well to hopefully save up around $50k in the next year or two in order to clone my dog.

  2. Income comparison table: Average is generally (but not always) is misleading (e.g. if 1 person has 100 billion income, this would bias the whole average), rather should be used median. If the population is harmonized and normally distributed then average can be taken as reference but top 0.01% is a thick tail population. (Says financial risk modeler)

    Overall looks quite good article though. Thanks for this.

  3. Regarding bullet point 4 of your “no-income tax states,” you forgot to include Washington. I know, I’m a resident :)

      1. Robert Alan Waters

        But New Hampshire isn’t. They don’t have sales tax either. Prop tax is pretty high tho.

  4. Pingback: How Long Will The Average Person Take To Earn $1 Million Around The World? | Financial Samurai

  5. What the hell is going on in Wyoming for that kind of income to the top .01%?! That means whoever is making it is killing all sports figures, hollywood, Wall street, etc. in other markets. WOW!

    1. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe Wyoming is one of the best states to set up your entity in to protect your welth. You can set up an entity in wyoming to hold all of your other welth (regardless of what state your welth is in) in and it will be much more safe from litigation.

      People with welth are concerened about getting their paints sued off… So they Move it to Wyoming.

      I wonder if this has anything to do with these odd numbers of the .01%

  6. I be super happy when i reach 0.8% .. i probably make half now so i need work to do. If everything goes about the same as last 5 years i make it less than 5 yrs :)
    I am also guessing that top .08% you have to make anywhere from 700k to 900k a year.

  7. The information provided in this chart is designed to appeal to “Jealousy.” If there were a way to commoditize emotions, we would all be in the top 0.1%.:-)

    The top 1% of earners pay 35% of Federal Income Taxes. The top 10% pay 68% of Federal Income Taxes. The top 40% pay 107% of Federal Income Taxes. Here are a few links that might provide a little more perspective on what it takes to get and stay employed. There is a huge swath of the population that is not producing anything of value to the economy, not valuing education or improving their skillsets, and yet being subsidized by those who do produce economic value. That swath votes that count 1-to-1, bases their votes on emotions (like “Jealousy”) and there are a lot more of them than 10%. One more factoid: most of the taxes are paid by people over age 45. There are many ways to slice-and-dice who pays what, and the links below will help those interested.

    Being in the top 1% or 0.1% is beyond most of us, but I do like the Casey Kasem quote noted earlier in the thread. One of my old coaches used to tell us, “reach for the stars, maybe you’ll get the moon!”

    Earnings and Unemployment by Educational Attainment

    Employment, Hours, Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics

    Top 1%, and what they earn and pay in Federal Income Taxes

    1. It’s been a popular mantra by some to say that half the US population pay no taxes. Let’s look at the composition of the half of Americans shall we?


      The Tax Policy Center’s Donald Marron said they fall into three main groups:

      The working poor. The earned income tax credit and the child credit can help families making $50,000 or more pay no taxes or get money back. About 60% of those not paying income taxes do contribute to payroll taxes, meaning they must have some source of earned income.

      The elderly. An increased standard deduction for those over 65, and an exemption on part of Social Security earnings, means that many older Americans pay no income taxes. Please remember though that the elderly have paid their dues through decades worth of federal taxation during their careers.

      The low-income. A family of four claiming only the standard deduction and personal exemptions pays no federal income tax on its first $27,000 of income.

      As you can see, being poor or elderly likely means you don’t pay net federal income taxes. We’re all going to grow old one day, so let’s give this group a pass. The elderly paid into the system, so let’s take care of them. I don’t think any of us would rather be poor so we can pay no federal taxes, so let’s give them a pass too. This leaves us with a low-income group that may have made some suboptimal decisions such as having children while not being able to support themselves. Children are estimated to cost anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 from the ages of 1-18. Perhaps having multiple children on a low income is not ideal. But, how do you deny passion?

      – See more at:

      1. Come on, Sam. You know who I am talking about.

        And that Tax Policy Center (a joint project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution) response, like the EPI (both liberal institutions), has a pretty tight three categories.:-) Serious question, does Obamacare cover “meth teeth”?

        1. “Hmmm, what are the conservative institutions that get highlighted in the media?

          Hmmmm. Exactly!

  8. Very good post Sam.

    Interesting data. That North Dakota number did catch my eye. Hardly anyone lives there, so most likely the oil boom….. But maybe not. Maybe that data point represents a handful of households?

  9. Done by Forty

    The graphics always tell an interesting story. Thanks for sharing, Sam.

    I’d love to see more data on earned income vs. investment income. They tell different stories about how money (esp. the big money) is being earned.

  10. James@StartingNegative

    We’re also a no income tax state up in Washington state. I actually moved here from Nevada many years ago, so I actually thought that was the norm.

    Looks like that WA number might be in reach some day! Of course, the goal posts will have moved by then.

    1. Thanks. Almost no state income tax right?


      Tennessee has no income tax but does have a “hall tax” — that is, a 6% tax on interest and dividends, which is specifically allowed by the state constitution. Tennessee also has a 7% sales tax. Income taxes are a contentious issue in Tennessee. The state constitution gives the government the right to tax property as well as income from stocks and bonds, but it does not mention personal income. Every so often lawmakers try to institute an income tax, as the constitution does not specifically bar this. This November, Tennesseans will vote on an amendment to the state constitution to ban any future taxes on payroll or personal income.

      While Tennessee has no income tax on wages, if you are a retiree living off of dividends and interest income, you should think twice before moving to Tennessee for the tax benefits. In 2011, the average per-capita state and local tax paid was $2,777, according to the Tax Foundation — the second-lowest in the U.S.

  11. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Making it into the top 1% in California, where I call home seems doable. Don’t think I will ever make it into the top 0.01% though. If I did, it would be one hell of a windfall. I don’t know what I would do with that kind of money…but I am sure I could find ways to spend and invest it.

    My ultimate goal is to be producing $600K/year, which is a very healthy sum of money.

    However, I wouldn’t mind landing a gig that paid $15M a year in stock like your friend. The good news is that I will start getting options next year and maybe stock the year after. You never know, I am in a growing company and there is lots of opportunity. But I won’t count my chickens before they hatch.

    Cheers to those that have already made it to the 1%, wait for me at the finish line because I am coming :)

    Oh and to the 0.01%, I am happy for you too!

    1. THIS is the mindset of a winner. No envy, no jealousy, no “the pie isn’t big enough for all of us so I want some of yours.”

      Just, “I’m gonna do better and better and yet still, if YOU’RE doing better than me, I salute you.”

      We need more of this type of mindset in our country. HOO-RAH!

        1. Gen Y Finance Guy

          Too many people in this world have a scarcity mindset. I personally have an abundance mindset. To me everyone can have their own pie and it can be as big as they want it to be.

  12. Sam – Sorry for the second post. Do you know of an authoritative and current source for the level required to reach top one percent-hood by net worth — and preferably by liquid net worth?

      1. Wow! I’m a physician and in top 1% for income in my state (TX) at roughly $500k which nets to $380k post tax. I’m not poor by any stretch but even if I saved 100% of that income for 20 yrs I still wouldn’t be in top 1% net worth of $8.4 mill. I hate when docs are demonized as the rich when many docs make much less than I. We are closer to the 99% than the 0.1% and we’re regular Schmos in net worth. Most people roll their eyes if you try to explain this. Thanks for making it clear in this post Sam

        1. That’s true…if your rate of return was 0%. If your rate of return was 8%, you would need to save about $185k per year for 20 years to build $8.4m.

  13. Massachusetts:
    –Financial Services
    –Old money

    This is why MA is ranked so highly, and almost all of the money is east of the 495 corridor, i.e., greater Boston area.

    1. Warren Buffet most likely does not have a high income. He has a $1 salary at BH from what I remember and his net worth comes from his shares of Berkshire Hathaway which doesn’t pay dividends. Also he would only earn income when he sells shares which I don’t think he does often and as he gives a lot of them away. So I would assume his 1040 income today is extremely low compared to his net worth.

  14. I have two quick observations:

    1) Obviously, setting Federal income thresholds for taxes based on regionally predicated incomes is codified inequality and ignorance

    2) It’s striking how some of the most ‘liberal’ [Blue] states, are home to some of the highest earners at the 1% level, while at the .01% level the correlation appears much weaker.

    My two cents:
    This nation is currently guided by a ‘YOU [not me] should pay more taxes’ mentality, that can’t possibly finance all the programs of the current Democratic ideal, at least responsibly anyway.

    1. Your first point is very important. Different states have different costs of living. A blanket federal income tax rate to aggressively tax the higher tax income earners who live in places like San Francisco, NYC, LA hurts more.

  15. The surprise one is Hawaii to me only coming at $279. Average house probably upward $700K (80 degree years round, who wouldn’t want to live in Hawaii?), and I had a friend who has just moved back from Hawaii, she said the 1% inland would drive all the local out. The local are in the lowing paying job of food, entertainment and hotel services. :(.

    1. Indeed. Hawaii is a very expensive place to live, and a lot of the truly wealthy there are not from Hawaii. Think about Steve Case from AOL who bought the most amount of real estate in the islands. Then there’s Larry Ellison who bought Kauai.

      The good thing about Hawaii is the strong focus on family.

  16. Are these numbers for individuals or households?

    I find myself getting unduly angry when I read “income inequality” stats. Those stats would look a /lot/ different if they were post-tax instead of pre-tax. My household counts as 1%ers, with a combined income of ~$600K, but after we finish paying ~$180K in taxes (who knows what the bill will really be this year, with all the extra 2% taxes on this, 3.8% taxes on that, deduction phaseouts, etc….), our net income is cut by about 30%. Meanwhile, the lower-end of the spectrum sees their income increase substantially post-tax.

    Now I’m not expecting any sympathy here, my wife and I have been fortunate (read: intelligent about career choices, hard-working and, productive). But by focusing on pre-tax income inequality the liberal talking-heads can always claim that we aren’t “paying our fair share”.

    1. Congrats on all your good fortune (hard work, good decision etc, etc)

      One comment stood out to me though.

      “Meanwhile, the lower-end of the spectrum sees their income increase substantially post-tax”

      May I ask what you think substantial is and if it is so substantial why doesn’t everyone do it?

      I mean if you have a household income of 80,000 – 100,000 how much post tax do you think they gain?

    2. Paying $180,000 in taxes is definitely kinda painful, but I guess still having $420,000 after tax is still pretty sweet.

      My only wish for the tax system is that there is an increase in breadth of income tax payers.

    3. Well…… I’m very sure that 99% of the U.S. population would enjoy having your tax problems!

      There is an entire industry of accounting professionals (whom charge nice fees) set up to help you reduce your tax bill. Just be careful not to stray too far outside the normal envelope. Perhaps one of those 529 plans?

  17. Wall Street Playboys

    “You don’t get paid if you don’t produce on Wall St.” – exactly.

    Small edit… You don’t get paid if you don’t produce… *anywhere*

    It would be fun to interview all the top 1% people. Certain that the guys above the 1% in their state generate actual dollars and most people using those net jet accounts work in… Sales.

    It would be much more interesting to see top 1% by city becuase the high numbers in say texas are probably concentrated in a few cities. Similar to california (primarily LA, SF, San jose)… New York would be Manhattan.

    Long story short? Follow the money gents! Don’t try to start a career in Arkansas!

  18. Thomas @ I need money ASAP!

    What the heck is going on in Wyoming for the top 0.01%? Is there only 1-2 people and one makes +$300,000,000 per year?!?

    1. There’s a saying in Jackson Hole that the billionaires have kicked the millionaires out. If I was a billionaire, I’d definitely buy a ranch in the Tetons. This was not surprising to me.

  19. Even Steven

    I work downtown in Chicago and thought it was the funniest thing when a few of the guys in the Board put up a sign that said “We are the 1%”, but at the time I didn’t really know how much that meant….now I know

  20. You may as well replace the “Share of All Income Held by the Top 1%” graph with just a standard graph of the S&P 500. They look exactly the same.


      1. Other factor people ignore is tax rates. Marginal tax rate was 70% until Reagan. (capital gains was in the mid 30’s I believe). Technology, globalization, and financialization all played a role but so did tax policy. I am not a huge fan of bigger govt., but overall its important to give credit to policy where it applies and tax policy certainly applied to the very wealthy and their incomes growing so much over the last 35 years. (haven’t read piketty but he talk about the pro-cyclicality and higher returns on capital and I think this is part of his argument)

  21. I’ve always thought a great kick start to someone’s financial freedom is to live your working years in a high earning/COL area like the Northeast, and then retire to a lower COL area like the South. But this is easier said than done as a lot of people would be leaving their known environments, friends, and families.

    Also something to note is that the states with no state income tax have to make their revenues somewhere else. Which usually leads to higher sales tax and property taxes in those states.

  22. It’s the law of small numbers talking for the top 0.01%. Take NJ for example, the population is around 9M people. The top 1% is a pool of 90K people and the top 0.01% is only the top 900 people. Wyoming is even worse- with 560K people the top 0.01 number an astonishing 50 people. You are looking at the tail of the tail of income distribution here.

    “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”


  23. I think that the biggest take away is that if you want to make a lot of money you usually don’t accomplish it with one big thing ala “A big deal, lottery, etc… (which is what most people believe). Your best bet is to provide a service or product that is superior or niche and provide it to scale.

  24. You highlight one of the top reasons I think much of the anger at the 1% is misdirected. The 1% includes doctors, high-powered lawyers, small business owners, etc. Whenever anyone wants to blame our economic woes on a subset of the population, the 1% comes up. But really, everyone should focus on the top .01% That’s where all the money is.

    I also get annoyed when people say things like “anyone in the top ten percent in this country should pay more taxes.” The top ten percent extends down to people making a minimum of $145,000. That’s not a difficult income to reach if you have two college-educated adults in one household. It’s also not nearly as much money as people think.

    1. Indeed. The middle class in San Francisco make around $80,000 – $150,000 according to our dear mayor, Ed Lee, and I believe him with the median house priced at $1-$1.1 million here.

      Let’s go after the 0.01%! Too bad there aren’t enough of them to make a difference in our government bloated budget. But, props to the billionaire mega donors out there!

    2. Don’t know you, and don’t want to come off to aggressive, but this is a common, but unfortunately mistaken point I think. The main argument for higher taxes is to support more governemtn services. If that is the argument you take (not necessarily one I take), then you need to increase taxes on pretty much everyone in the top 20-30% (above say 75k). That is simply because that is where most of the income is. The top .01% only control 6% of income annually, and it is also the most mobile money. So by all means increase taxes on the .01%, but you are just not being serious / honest / realistic if you don’t raise taxes more broad based (if your goal is honest government services). If you think the govt. should provide more, then somebody earning lets say $75k probably would need to pay between $3-10k more in taxes to get to similar rates that western Europe has. Its simply ridiculous to only raise money from the top .01% as they have less than 6% of the income. Its just not a grown-up point. No offense is intended, and I assume you are a well meaning person, but its really important to point out the factual analysis in this and I welcome any rebuttal.

  25. It’s always misleading when comparing DC figures to those of states. DC is a big city whereas states are comprised of urban/small town/rural areas. As a result, it would make much better sense to compare DC to other cities (NYC, Boston, LA etc) rather than states.

  26. I’m interested in how close Colorado ($405) and Kansas ($358) are in the top 1% graph. Denver is such a huge metropolis compared to anything in KS… I’d expect the 1% to be doing better there than they actually are.

    1. Well, actually Kansas City metro (yes I know that is in MO) is 2.3m vs Denver 2.7m

      Many people that work in Kansas City live in Kansas. In fact much of Kansas City metro is located in Kansas.

      May be a factor…

      1. I work in the healthcare industry. I know a lot of hospitals the 2nd back up servers are located in Kansas city. It is not a coincident for google to pick kansas city as the first city to have the lightening cable speed.
        You can also see how big of a city is from how many professional sport teams they have Kansas city Chief (football), royals (baseball), sporting Kansas city (soccer)

        1. There is also the aerospace industry in Wichita, KS. That city is well over half a million.

          I lived in KC for close to 10 years and I agree that a very large percentage of high earners work in MO, but live in KS (Olathe, Overland Park, Lenexa) that are very nice suburbs.

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