Sustainability Infrastructure

Here are the states high-earning Americans are moving to

A recent analysis found the Sunbelt boasts six of the top 10 states with the largest influx of high wage households.

Story at a glance


  • Florida and Texas, which do not have a state income tax, hold the top two spots. 

  • The states losing the most high-income households include New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Virginia.

  • Washington, D.C., has the highest proportion of households earning $200,000 or more at 12.19 percent.

America’s high wage earners — those whose tax returns show an income of $200,000 or more — are migrating primarily to states in the nation’s Sunbelt region.  

A recent analysis from the personal finance website SmartAsset shows the Sunbelt boasts six of the top 10 states with the largest influx of high-wage households.  

Florida and Texas, which do not have a state income tax, hold the top two spots. Florida earned No. 1 status despite losing more than 11,000 tax filers who reported earnings of at least $200,000 in 2020. The same held true in Texas, where more than 13,000 high earning households left the state.  

Florida’s net migration totaled 20,263 high-income filers, while Texas netted 5,356. 

Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina rounded out the SmartAsset’s top five states with the highest net totals of wage earners added.  

Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., has the highest proportion of households earning $200,000 or more at 12.19 percent. West Virginia had the smallest. 

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The states losing the most high-wage tax filers are traditionally tax-heavy ones, according to the analysis. They include New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Virginia. 

But the bottom ten states are still home to a significantly higher percentage of high-income earners than the national average of around 7 percent. 

For the analysis, SmartAsset used IRS data from 2019-2020 to compare the influx and outflow of high-earning households in all 50 states and D.C. 

Separate pandemic era analyses show the migration pattern continuing as residents move out of cities and into the south and southwest. Opportunities created by remote work enable workers to move to areas of the country where the cost of living is far lower than the nation’s metros.