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This Is the Living Wage You Need in All 50 States

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Making a livable wage can be a lifelong struggle. The mounting costs of housing and basic necessities can quickly add up, leaving you scraping to make ends meet rather than saving and building wealth. And depending on where you call home, that situation can be considerably worse.

That’s why GOBankingRates conducted a study to identify the annual living wage needed to live comfortably in each of the 50 states, revealing that even if you’re comfortably middle class in one region, that doesn’t mean you won’t be living paycheck to paycheck in another.

Not to be confused with the minimum wage, we define the “living wage” as the income you need to cover necessary and discretionary expenses while still contributing to savings. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 50/30/20 budgeting rule -- which allocates 50 percent of your income to necessities, 30 percent to discretionary expenses and 20 percent to savings -- the study found what you would need to earn to comfortably cover your basic needs while still saving for the future. But the results reveal that the average salary in your state might not be enough to do just that.

Annual Living Wage: $60,016

Alabama is among the least expensive places in America to live -- in part thanks to median housing costs of just $8,612 a year -- but earning a median wage in the state would still leave inhabitants of the Yellow Hammer State $13,544 short of a living wage.

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Annual Living Wage: $91,996

Life near the Arctic Circle comes at a cost, with the cost of necessities in Alaska clearing $45,000 a year. That means you would need nearly $92,000 a year to still have half your wages left over for savings and luxuries.

Annual Living Wage: $68,504

Arizona’s cost of living is just 2.3 percent below the national average so that living wage is very close to what the average rate is nationwide. That said, the median household income in Arizona remains just under $15,000 short of that.

Annual Living Wage: $59,461

Arkansas is another state where your dollar can stretch the furthest, with a cost of living that’s over 10 percent under the national average. Many residents of the Razorback State, though, are still struggling to hit that as the average household income is just $43,813 -- the second-lowest in the country and nearly $14,000 less than the average American income.

Annual Living Wage: $99,971

The nation’s most populous state is also among the most expensive, with a living wage translating to just about six figures if you’re planning on following the 50/30/20 rule. Even for a state with an average annual income of $67,169, those are costs that are hard to bear.

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Annual Living Wage: $74,215

Life in the Rockies is just a little more expensive than elsewhere -- about 4.5 percent more, to be specific -- but the state’s residents appear to be in better shape than most to deal with it. The difference between the median income and the living wage is just $8,757, making it one of just 17 states where that gap is under $10,000.

Annual Living Wage: $90,278

Connecticut’s relatively high cost of living means you would need to earn at least $90,000 to cover the average cost of necessities with half your salary. A big chunk of that ends up going to housing, with an average annual bill of $18,485 for Connecticut residents.

Annual Living Wage: $71,254

While Delaware residents enjoy costs that are generally very close to the average nationwide, they are paying 12 percent more for their groceries than the average American, translating to an annual bill of nearly $5,000.

Annual Living Wage: $67,614

Although the cost of living in Florida is actually a hair under the national average, the median income in the Sunshine State isn’t quite so sunny at just over $50,000 a year. That leaves a gap of over $16,000 between the typical annual salary and a living wage. Still, Florida is considered one the best states for the middle class.

Annual Living Wage: $62,074

Georgians likely have an easier time making ends meet than most. Their cost of living is below the national average, and while........

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