PhotoIf you have hopes of becoming wealthy -- or at least better off than you are now -– you should be willing to move. That is, if you don't already live in either the Northeast or Middle-Atlantic states.

For the first time, the Pew Economic Mobility Project has identified where in the country Americans are more likely to move up or down the earnings ladder. Eight states, primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, have higher upward and lower downward mobility than the nation as a whole, while states in the South have consistently lower upward and higher downward mobility.

The Project has set up an online interactive tool for the data. 

"When it comes to achieving the American Dream, it matters where you live," said Erin Currier, project manager of Pew's Economic Mobility Project. "Understanding that mobility rates differ by state is the first step towards helping policy makers pinpoint what enhances their residents' mobility."

It's also good information for consumers, especially those who are contemplating a move.

Economic Mobility of the States evaluates economic mobility in three ways, including absolute mobility – measuring residents' average earnings growth over time – as well as upward and downward relative mobility – measuring people's rank on the ladder relative to their peers. Those states that rank above the national average on at least two measures are considered "better" and those that are below on at least two are considered "worse."

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States with the best upward mobility

Three states that have "better" mobility on all three measures are Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

Five states - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Utah – are “better” on two of the three measures.

States that have “worse” mobility tend to be clustered in the southeast. Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina scored “worse” on all three measures. Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas were “worse” on two of the three measures.

Mobility itself also seem to have something to do with upward mobility. For example, two individuals may have been born in the same town and state. One left home while the other stayed. Who's better off?The survey shows those who moved out of their birth states had better mobility outcomes on average than those who did not.  


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