In 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the top five states by real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the United States were Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Alaska and Delaware.
In 2017, Massachusetts posted the nation's highest real GDP per capita of $65,545 and a current-dollar, per-capita GDP of $74,564, good for third place by that metric. The state's economic success is both a product and an effect of possessing the nation's most educated workforce, with 42.7% of Massachusetts adults having a bachelor's degree. This factor, along with the close clustering of research institutions and businesses in STEM sectors, makes for a bustling incubator of innovation and investment. Massachusetts companies won over 6,700 patents in 2015, which represents nearly 100 patents per 100,000 state residents – the second-most, per-capita patents in the United States.
New York occupies second place with its real GDP per capita of $64,579 in 2017. New York generated a current-dollar GDP of $1.27 trillion in 2016. The financial services sector is the most important area of the state; it generated $379 billion (2017) for New York. Professional and business services such as legal advice, administrative services and management consulting have produced an output worth $178 billion (2017) in current dollars. In addition to Wall Street, New York is steadily growing its technology and entrepreneurship presence. New York's GDP greatly suffered as a result of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, as its financial services sector declined, but it has subsequently rebounded.
Connecticut takes third place in terms of real GDP per capita of $64,511 for 2018 and a per-capita, current-dollar GDP of $73,643. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing are the most important areas of Connecticut's economy since they accounted for about 29% of its GDP in 2014. The state's economic growth is also tied to manufacturing activity; United Technologies Corporation is based in Hartford. Connecticut has a somewhat high income inequality due to a concentration of wealthy individuals who live in certain metropolitan areas, such as New Haven and Bridgeport.
Alaska had a real GDP per capita of $63,971 in 2017 due to its small population, which was estimated to be below 1 million people, and its high production output of oil and gas. Of Alaska's current-dollar GDP (also known as nominal GDP) of $68,356 billion (2016), over 80% comes from petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold, zinc and other precious metals. Other prominent export goods from Alaska include seafood products, such as salmon and cod. Employment in Alaska is concentrated in the government sector and energy industry.
Because of the oil and natural gas discovery and subsequent energy boom in the 1980s, Alaska built the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The Alaskan state legislature created the Permanent Fund, which must set aside a certain portion of oil revenues and invest it for the future of Alaskan residents. Every year, the Permanent Fund pays an annual dividend to all eligible residents who lived in Alaska for the full calendar year and intend to stay in Alaska indefinitely.
Delaware had a real GDP per capita of $63,664 in 2017 and current-dollar, per-capita GDP of $73,931. Delaware has a reputation as one of the best places in the country for publicly traded American companies to incorporate, largely because of its business-friendly corporate tax laws. More than 50% of publicly traded American companies are incorporated in the state, including 63% of the Fortune 500. Combined with low labor costs, total business costs in the state are 21% below the U.S. average, among the lowest in the country.