June 29, 2013
By Deanna Marchand and Alan Cooke, Co-Chairs, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Massachusetts

Effective August 1, 2013, Massachusetts will be following revised child support guidelines.  The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force of the Massachusetts Trial Court has just completed its work and released the new guidelines and its report.

This is only the second occasion, that we are aware of, where the Guidelines have been reduced.

As Ned Holstein wrote in his article Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are Actively Harmful to the Wellbeing of Children, the 2009 high levels of support orders implicitly assume that more is better.

“Excessive child support orders are the result in part of an archaic way of thinking, namely, that the wellbeing of the child is solely bound up in the wellbeing of the custodial parent and her home. And that the circumstances of the non-custodial parent matter little or not at all to the wellbeing of the child.”

Congratulations to all who testified at the child support guidelines hearings; who presented written testimony; or who wrote letters, as requested, to Governor Deval Patrick, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray.  Thank you for standing up for the children of Massachusetts! 

 

Highlights of the Report and Guidelines

What was accomplished?

  1. Support guidelines were reduced, resulting in an average 11% decrease for one-child families and a 6% decrease for two child families. This moderates the impact of the large increases we saw when the 2009 Guidelines were released. This is only the second occasion, that we are aware of, where the Guidelines have been reduced.
  2. The Task Force explicitly recognized the need for balance that is fair to both parents. National Parents Organization wants to emphasize that this is essential to the best interests of our children. Too much court-ordered child support is also harmful to children. Shared parenting is the arrangement that children most desire and in which they do best, so Guidelines that incentivize battles for sole custody harm children. For low income parents, the negative impact can be even more profound when excessive child support orders cause non-custodial parents to live in poverty or near-poverty. Lowering the guidelines makes it more feasible for people, particularly those with lower incomes, to meet their obligations.
  3. The Task Force sought the advice of respected experts – Mark Sarro and Mark Rogers – to provide a detailed economic review of the guidelines. This included a benchmarking against neighboring states, an approach that National Parents Organization used in our submissions to the Task Force last September. This highlighted the disparity that exists, and likely was a major factor in the support guideline reductions.
  4. A new formula was established for calculating support where parenting time is higher than the norm. We believe this is an implicit recognition of the goal of many parents – particularly so-called non-custodial parents – to enter into shared parenting arrangements.
  5. Modifications may now be sought where an existing order is inconsistent with the 2013 Guidelines. Presumably this will apply to all or almost all existing orders given the overall reductions that have been made.
  6. The court must now consider “availability of employment at the attributed income level.”  The new language makes clear that although a person might be highly skilled, and although they may have once earned substantial sums, the court, in making a child support order, must consider whether jobs actually exist at the pay rate alleged.

What remains to be changed?

  1. Even with the reduction, guidelines are still excessive. The proof is in the benchmarking with our neighboring states. By the state’s own analysis, Massachusetts child support requirements are an average of 29% higher than our neighbors for one child families, 11% higher for two child families, and 3% higher for three child families. Our own analysis shows that Massachusetts is an average of 63% higher, with amounts depending on income levels. The disparity is most noticeable for low income parents, for whom it is 135% higher.
  2. Both the 2009 and 2013 guidelines are predicated on an “assumed standard split” of two-thirds/one-third parenting time. First, we do not believe this assumption is correct. In fact, children tend to enjoy the benefit of their “non-custodial parents” far less than one-third of the time. More importantly, it is time for shared parenting to become the norm in this state, and for the support guidelines to reflect that norm.
  3. Massachusetts remains one of only two states in the nation that require child support over the age of 18. The Task Force noted that this is a statutory requirement. This means, of course, that we need legislative action. The Task Force, however, did state that judges shall exercise their discretion in ordering support and/or college contributions. Our view is that if divorced and single parents are under this obligation, then all parents – including married ones – should be under the same obligation. A better conclusion is to follow the other 48 states by removing this obligation and allowing all parents the freedom to support their adult children as they see fit.
  4. While the Task Force said it provided clarification for parents whose combined incomes exceed $250,000, the Guidelines state that any support obligation related to amounts over $250,000 shall be in the discretion of the courts. Our view is that this still leaves far too much discretion with judges, increasing the likelihood of costly, time-consuming litigation. Greater clarity is needed.
  5. Alimony may now be calculated first, before child support. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 provides that in calculating alimony, the amount of a payor’s income used to calculate child support must be disregarded. The purpose of the statute seems to be that one’s income should not be counted twice: once for the payment of child support and then again to pay alimony.

What’s Next?
National Parents Organization has been a strong advocate for reform of the child support guidelines. We have seen significant success with the 2013 Guidelines review. We need your help to continue our valuable work. Our #1 priority going forward is to make shared parenting a reality in Massachusetts.

Please contribute to our efforts by (i) contributing now, and (ii) letting us know if you can volunteer your time.

 

Detailed Analysis of 2013 Child Support Guidelines

Support Levels Lowered!
We are pleased to see that the 2013 Guidelines will result in an average 11% decrease in orders for most one child families. For two child families, the average reduction is 6%. While the report does not contain all the reforms we wanted, this is significant progress and we thank the Task Force for attempting to strike a balance which is fair to both parents.

It is important to point out that the 2013 Guidelines include a reduction in the Child Support Obligations in Table A: Child Support Obligation Schedule. Some of that reduction was lessened through an increase in the adjustment factor in Table B: Adjustment For Number Of Children. This adjustment factor is used in the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to increase the combined support amount when there is more than one child. The combined impact of both tables, though, make up the average decreases we reference above.

The reduction in the support guidelines is clearly a positive development. We believe that National Parents Organization’s lobbying efforts in late 2012 were a significant force behind the change. These efforts included: (i) our members testifying at the public hearings held by the Task Force (Child Support Guidelines Make Fathers ATM), (ii) the formal Recommendations that our Massachusetts Executive Committee submitted to the Task Force, and (iii) our members sending letters to Governor Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.

The Task Force Report includes a summary of public comments. It is evident that many of these comments were from National Parents Organization and our members. Thank you to every person who testified, wrote letters, and contributed to our formal recommendations.

This is proof that when we stand up for the best interests of our children, our voices will be heard.

More Work Is Needed
While the 2013 Guidelines are lower than the 2009 Guidelines, they are still higher than the 2006 Guidelines. On average, the 2013 Guidelines are 46% higher than the 2006 Guidelines. The impact is felt particularly at the median and high income levels, but they are also felt at low income levels where the 2013 Guidelines remain 12% higher than in 2006.

Using the benchmark of our five neighboring states, we also note that Massachusetts remains out of sync with our neighbors. As you’ll see in the chart below, Massachusetts support requirements are an average of 29% higher than our neighbors for one child families, 11% higher for two child families, and 3% higher for three child families.

The Task Force report justifies the higher guidelines by stating that “costs are all above average in Massachusetts.” They go on to benchmark Massachusetts against neighboring states and use the national cost of living comparison as a rationale for higher support orders. While the Task Force is correct in stating that the Massachusetts cost of living is higher than the national average, all of the northeast states are more expensive.

According to CNBC, while Massachusetts ranks as the 9th most expensive state in the nation, Connecticut is 2nd, New York is 3rd, Rhode Island is 6th, Vermont is 8th, and New Hampshire is 10th. The reality is that Massachusetts is less expensive than four of its five neighbors. As such, there is no reason for our support guidelines to be higher than our neighbors. Furthermore, the high cost of living impacts both of the child’s households, not just the recipient of child support payments.

Modifications of Your Child Support
Please note that the following is not intended as legal advice. You should consult an attorney before taking any legal action. Based on their own individual circumstances and the advice of an attorney, each person should determine whether to apply for a modification starting on August 1, 2013.

The 2013 Guidelines have three significant changes relating to modifications. The first is that the mere fact that an existing order is three years old does not justify a modification. The second is a new circumstance allowing a person to seek a modification where s/he can show an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the 2013 Guidelines. We view these as positive changes. The third change is that the fourth circumstance for seeking a modification has been updated to require “any other material and substantial change has occurred.” We are unclear on what impact this change will have.

Parenting Time
Noncustodial parents with more than 1/3 parenting time but less than 1/2 parenting time get some relief. There is a new calculation for this scenario, where the child support order would be reduced, in acknowledgement that the noncustodial parent also incurs expenses in raising the child(ren).

The Quadrennial Review report provides the rationale for this new calculation on page 60: 

"In 1987, the (national) Advisory Panel on Child Support Guidelines recommended that states enact guidelines that encourage the involvement of both parents in the child’s upbringing and take into consideration the financial support provided by parents in shared custody and extended visitation arrangements. In keeping with this recommendation, the Massachusetts Guidelines recognize that children should enjoy parenting time with both parents to the greatest extent possible consistent with the children’s best interests. 

The Task Force considered the commentary both for and against providing an adjustment for shared-parenting time, the trend toward greater involvement of both parents in parental responsibility, and the research that suggests that the involvement of both parents improves child outcomes."

The alternate calculation for 50/50 parenting arrangements is still in place. The 2009 Child Support Guidelines had this alternate calculation, but in many cases judges saw this to be a portion of the guidelines where they had discretion, choosing not to use the alternate calculation, which would have reduced the child support order. Instead, they used the 1/3 and 2/3 parenting time calculation for a 50/50 parenting arrangement. The language in the 2013 guidelines remains the same, stating that this alternate calculation “shall be” used, however this remains to be seen.

On the other hand, if a noncustodial parent has custody less than 1/3 of the time, the judge has discretion to increase the child support order beyond what is calculated in the Child Support Guideline Worksheet. The assumed 1/3 formula does not seem to take into account any child related expenses the noncustodial parent incurred to begin with and provided for the children only in the custodial parent’s home, so this increase in support orders seems unnecessary and serves to provide the custodial parent with additional income that looks more like alimony than child support.

Age of the Children
This section discusses the age at which child support orders must end and parental responsibility for college contributions. They lean on Massachusetts General Law in this matter, letting us know that they do not have the ability to change law. They are reminding us here that according to law, the court has full discretion in making child support orders and ordering payment of education expenses up to age 23. As a result, there are noncustodial parents throughout the state paying both child support to noncustodial parents while their child lives at college and paying college expenses, for children who are well above the age of 18. Massachusetts is one of only two states in the United States that orders a parent to support a 23-year-old adult child. Parents who have not stepped into the Massachusetts Family and Probate Court have no obligation to pay for college for their children.  The courts should have no involvement in a parent’s decision to support their adult child in any form.  They should have the freedom to develop their own college savings plan if their budget allows and make college funding decisions with their child as any other parent would.  The court’s discretion and unpredictability does not permit the parents to do appropriate advance planning.

Relationship of Child Support to Alimony
Alimony may now be calculated first, before child support.  The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 provides that in calculating alimony, the amount of a payor’s income used to calculate child support must be disregarded.  In order to determine how much of a person’s income is used for child support and so must be disregarded for alimony purposes, it is necessary to calculate child support first. The purpose of the statute seems to be that one’s income should not be counted twice: once for the payment of child support and then again to pay alimony.

According to Jerry Aaron, National Parents Organization member and family law attorney, “The New Guidelines turn that on its head, by stating that alimony may be calculated first.  It is not clear whether the Task Force has any jurisdiction to make rules about the interplay of alimony and child support, since it was supposed to make rules only about child support. 

“In trying to justify its position that an “alimony first” calculation is appropriate and not counter to the Alimony Reform Act, the Task Force report states that this provision is intended to permit the court to designate part of an award of support as alimony and part as child support to “determine the most equitable result for the child and the parties;” but the question remains as to whether the committee has the power to authorize a court to do this.”

This “equitable result” is a reference to the tax effects of alimony and child support, where alimony is deductible to the payor and child support is not; conversely, one receiving child support receives it tax free, but must pay taxes on alimony.  The court has often observed that by designating a part of a support award alimony and part toward child support, taxes in the aggregate can be lowered on the total amount paid, giving a net benefit to the family as a whole; therefore, the amount the payor pays can also be increased somewhat to include the tax savings.

Here is one problem:  If a court uses the whole of a payor’s income to calculate alimony, and then it uses 50% of that same income to calculate child support, the alimony calculation is unlawful, since it takes into account the 50% of the payor’s income that is used for child support.  This seems to create quite a conundrum, and it remains to be seen how it will play out.  Must the court now set forth how much of a payor’s income is being used in the alimony calculation and how much in the child support calculation?  

The report of the task force, at page 67, suggests that the legislature is being petitioned to change the statute to reduce or eliminate the effect of the provision disregarding, for alimony purposes, that portion of income used to calculate child support. 

 

Child Support Calculations

As noted, we are pleased to see that the 2013 Guidelines will result in an average 11% decrease in orders for most one child families. For two child families, the average reduction is 6%.

It is important to point out that the 2013 Guidelines include a reduction in the Child Support Obligations in Table A: Child Support Obligation Schedule. Some of that reduction was lessened through an increase in the adjustment factor in Table B: Adjustment For Number Of Children. The combined impact of both tables though is the average decreases we reference above.

One Child Calculations
The new Child Support Guidelines result in an average of 11% decrease in orders for one child, excluding the high income case.

Comparison of Weekly Support Payments under Various Guidelines


Scenario

2006 Guidelines

2009 Guidelines

2013 MA Guidelines

2013 vs. 2006 Guidelines

2013 vs. 2009 Guidelines

Low *

54

69

61

12%

-12%

Median  **

170

247

222

30%

-10%

Median  ***

99

192

174

77%

-9%

High  ****

311

609

514

65%

-16%

Average

46%

-12%

 

*

(equal incomes)

**

(lower earning custodial parent)

***

(higher earning custodial parent)

 

**** In the High Income scenario, the child support calculation was based on steps 1 and 2 in the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (Worksheet Instructions) to calculate the child support order for the first $250,000 of combined income. Step 3 was not used to calculate the additional child support based on the amount earned over $250,000 as it is unclear how this would be calculated.  As a result, the decrease in support in 2013 is overstated. 

Notes:
These scenarios include one child. The Task Force assumed the child is with the custodial parent 2/3 of the time and with the noncustodial parent 1/3 of the time. The calculations use 2012 tax law.

Definitions:
Low Income Scenario: This scenario assumes the two parents are each earning income at the federal poverty level for a household of two (parent and child).

Median Incomes (lower earning custodial parent) Scenario: These individuals earn the median income for full-time, year-round working females and males in Massachusetts ($44,522 and $57,045 respectively), according to the 2010 census. The female's income is assigned to the 2/3 custody parent and the male's income is assigned to the 1/3 custody parent.

Median Incomes (higher earning custodial parent) Scenario: This scenario uses the same income levels as the previous middle income parents (median income by sex), but assumes the child support recipient earns the higher income and the payor earns the lower income.

High Income Scenario: Custodial parent earns $125,000. Noncustodial parent earns $250,000.

Two Child Calculations
The new guidelines have an increase in the Adjustment factor in Table B: Adjustment For Number Of Children. This Adjustment factor is used in the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to increase the combined support amount for one child when there are additional children. The table below shows the percent increase attributed to this Adjustment factor increase in the four scenarios above, but assuming there are two children. There is an average of 4.2% increase.

Scenario

% Change Attributed to Table B

Low Income (equal incomes)

4.1%

Median Incomes (lower earning custodial parent)

4.5%

Median Incomes (higher earning custodial parent)

3.9%

High Income*

4.2%

The table below shows the child support order decreases for the four scenarios for two children. The changes in The Child Support Guidelines Chart decrease the order, however the changes in Table B increase the order. The net result is an average decrease of 6.4% (excluding the high income scenario).

Scenario

Net Change

Low Income (equal incomes)

-7.9%

Median Incomes (lower earning custodial parent)

-5.7%

Median Incomes (higher earning custodial parent)

-5.6%

High Income*

-11.4%

High Income Earners
The guidelines continue to consider combined income up to $250,000 in the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, then reserve discretion on ordering support on income above that amount.

In a scenario where the custodial parent does not work and the noncustodial parent earns $250,000, the support order is $39,988. If the noncustodial parent earns more than $250,000 per year, the court may order additional support. It is simply hard to believe that a recipient parent needs more than $40,000 per year in support for a single child.

The Task Force did say that it provided clarification for parents whose combined incomes exceed $250,000. And in fact, the 2013 Guidelines Worksheet does include a calculation showing that the recipient should receive the proportional share of income over $250,000, with the proportion being based on their contribution to combined income. Unfortunately though, the Guidelines state that any support obligation related to amounts over $250,000 shall be in the discretion of the courts.  Our view is that this still leaves far too much discretion with judges, increasing the likelihood of costly, time-consuming litigation. Greater clarity is needed, and at a certain point support payments should be capped.  The $250,000 level is already much higher than income level considered in most state’s child support calculations.

Disparities in the Standard of Living
When comparing the custodial parent and noncustodial parent households, there is still a gross disparity in the standard of living in each household. The children generally experience a much higher standard of living when in the custodial parent’s home.

In the scenarios listed, we reviewed the income, deducted taxes (the custodial parents receive additional exemptions, credits, and a more favorable filing status as Head Of Household), child-related health insurance and life insurance expenses, transferred the child support from the payor to the payee, then reduced disposable income in each household by the cost to raise one child, per the 2011 USDA Expense Estimates. In the low and middle income scenarios the noncustodial parent is left with half of the amount of disposable income to support him/herself compared to the custodial parent. In the low income scenario the custodial parent contributes $5,000 to supporting the child while the noncustodial parent contributes $10,000 to supporting the child. They earn the same income and the custodial parent pays no taxes. In the middle and high income scenarios the custodial parent does not make any financial contribution to support their child. The custodial parent personally benefits from the child support by experiencing a higher standard of living for themselves.

The Child Support Guidelines state the following principles:

1) To minimize the economic impact on the child’s standard of living…
2) To meet the child’s survival needs in the first instance, but to the extent either parent enjoys a higher standard of living, to entitle the child to enjoy that higher standard;…
3) To recognize that the parents should bear any additional expenses resulting from the maintenance of two separate households instead of one, since it is not the child’s decision that the parents divorce, separate, or otherwise live separately.”

In the vast majority of cases, the guidelines create a redistribution of income such that the noncustodial parent has much less disposable income to provide for him/herself and the child(ren) than the custodial parent. It is mathematically impossible for the noncustodial parent to provide that “higher standard of living” to the child(ren) in the child’s home with the noncustodial parent.

The noncustodial parent bears the burden of paying the “additional expenses resulting from the maintenance of two separate households”, for each household. The custodial parent is called upon to bear little or none of this additional expense, despite the Principle implying that it is the parents’ joint responsibility. The outcome of the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet itself continues to contradict the Principles laid out in the Guidelines.

The Task Force’s report provides the rationale for the addition of Principle #5 on page 61: “Guidelines based on the Income Shares model however reflect an estimate of the amount of spending that would have been made on the child(ren) had the household remained intact. In theory, the Income Shares model holds the child(ren) harmless for the parents’ decision to live separately. The Task Force, while acknowledging public comments on the expense of establishing two separate households, believes that the public policy of the Commonwealth and the Guidelines (historically) support the principle underlying the Income Shares model. As a result, the Task Force recommends expressly providing that the parents should bear any additional expenses resulting from the maintenance of two households and not the child.”

In other words, in order to minimize the impact on the child(ren)’s standard of living and hold the child(ren) harmless, the parents should spend the same amount on housing, in each of the new households, so the child(ren) can live in two homes with the same value as the home they would have enjoyed if the parents lived together. For example, if the parents owned a $500,000 family home then separated, they should each buy a new $500,000 home. The intact family could not have afforded a $1,000,000 home, but the courts have determined that the parents should now somehow increase their income or go into debt to accomplish this.

There are few families in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts today who could swap their home for a new home at double the price. According to The Economist, as of April 2013, the average savings rate in America is just above 2%, implying that families are already spending the money they earn to maintain their lifestyle. This Principle does not make mathematical sense. In practice, the Guideline actually only provides for an attempt at maintaining this same housing level in the custodial parents’ home, not the noncustodial parent. Again, although it is stated as a responsibility of both parents, the noncustodial parent foots the bill for all or most of the housing for the custodial parent’s home and 100% of his/her housing own housing. This is despite the Task Force stating that they are recognizing the shifting of parental responsibilities towards more joint parenting and that the Guidelines are intended to promote a more active role of both parents in the legal responsibilities for support of their children.

The new Guidelines do somewhat reduce the burden on the noncustodial parent (less so when there is more than on child) through modifications in the Child Support Guidelines Chart, as does the new calculation for noncustodial parents with greater than 1/3 parenting time, however the calculations still strongly contradict the unachievable Principles and lack common sense.

The Economic Review report states in its Conclusion that, “Ultimately, it is important for the Massachusetts Guidelines to have their foundation in fundamental economic principals and actual data on child costs. By having a strong economic foundation, the Guidelines can better establish the appropriate amount of support for a child and create appropriate economic incentives for both payors and recipients.” The Quadrennial Review report states on page 80, the Child Support Guidelines Chart “is not based on any one economic measure of child-rearing expenditures.” Again, the Guidelines have been written without regard to actual marginal costs associated with raising a child in Massachusetts.

The Guidelines should be truly promoting parental involvement and responsible financial decisions by parents. Once the legal fees have been paid, parents should have the freedom to move on, build an emergency fund for their family and establish a savings plan. Their children have gone from seeing each of their parents seven days a week to seeing each parent less and likely seeing the noncustodial parent just four nights and two weekends each month.

The Guidelines should promote a focus on quantity and quality of family time, not forcing payors into working long hours to fulfill child support orders. Poor payors should not be left without means to provide even adequate housing for themselves and their children. The Guidelines should not serve to teach children in middle and high income families that what is more important than time with each parent is conspicuous consumption and keeping up with the Jones’. We are doing our children a disservice by teaching them about financial irresponsibility, having their parents model living outside of their means, and keeping their noncustodial parent on the periphery of their lives as they are forced to spend excessive time at work, rather than be involved in their child’s education and extra-curricular activities and spending time with them. The Guidelines undermine basic family values.

 

Comparison of Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines vs. Neighboring States

As noted in the newsletter, by the Task Force’s own admission, Massachusetts remains out of sync with our five neighboring states: Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. As you will see in the chart below, Massachusetts support requirements are an average of 29% higher than our neighbors for one child families, 11% higher for two child families, and 3% higher for three child families. The Task Force’s analysis was based on one scenario involving a payor with a $60,000 income and a recipient with no income.

Weekly Support Payments – Task Force Analysis

Our own analysis is more detailed, covering various scenarios involving low, median and high income earners. It’s clear that even with the reduction in the 2013 Guidelines, parents in Massachusetts pay significantly more than their counterparts in neighboring states.

Weekly Support Payments – National Parents Organization Analysis
* In the High Income Scenario the child support calculation was based on steps 1 and 2 in the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (Worksheet Instructions) to calculate the child support order for the first $250,000 of combined in come. Step 3 was not used to calculate the additional child support based on the amount earned over $250,000 as it is unclear how this would be calculated.

Notes:
These scenarios include one child. The child is with the custodial parent 2/3 of the time and with the noncustodial parent 1/3 of the time. The calculations use 2012 tax law and child support guidelines for states in 2012.

Is Massachusetts Really More Expensive?
The Economic Review report also states that “the data do show that the overall cost of living is higher in Massachusetts than in the nation as a whole”; however, “there is not a clear economic rationale to explain why actual child costs, if we could observe them directly, would be higher in Massachusetts than in the U.S. overall”. It cites three examples of higher costs:

  1. That housing costs in Massachusetts are generally higher than the national average. It states that according to the USDA, “housing is the largest expense on a child.”  Given that housing is an expense incurred for parents and children in both of the children’s households and the Child Support Guideline Worksheet assumes the child has two homes, the higher housing expense in Massachusetts should be considered an expense incurred equally by both parents. Relative housing expense in Massachusetts should not constitute higher child support orders that leave the noncustodial parent with much less disposable income for his/her family’s housing expense. Noncustodial parents in Massachusetts are still left at a financial disadvantage, compared to custodial parents, as are the children during their time with their noncustodial parent.
  2. That child care costs are higher in the state. We note that, again, this impacts both custodial and non-custodial parents.
  3. That healthcare costs are higher in the state. Given that non-custodial parents usually have higher incomes, they tend to cover these costs through their employers, so really, it is irrelevant.

The Economic Review report also states that Massachusetts has higher than average income on a national level. However, there are two other neighboring states with higher incomes. It’s notable that all five neighboring states are in the top half of states as measured by median income.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Annual Social and Economic Supplements.

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