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And there's new research out, suggesting economic opportunity may depend on where you live. The study from the Pew Charitable Trusts finds economic mobility varies significantly in different parts of the United States.
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As NPR's John Ydstie reports, you're significantly more likely to move up the economic ladder if you live in the Northeast.
JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The states with the highest mobility rankings are New York, New Jersey and Maryland. During the 10-year period studied, residents there were more likely to have experienced stronger income growth and to have raised their economic standing, relative to other Americans. People in those states were also less likely to be downwardly mobile. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Utah also scored well.
Erin Currier is director of Pew's Economic Mobility Project.
ERIN CURRIER: The fact that different state residents experienced different rates of mobility, means that where you live matters.
YDSTIE: Nine states in the South, including Texas and Florida, had worse economic mobility than the national average. Oklahoma, Louisiana and South Carolina had the lowest scores.
Currier says other Pew studies have identified the factors that most affect mobility.
CURRIER: We know that there are certain drivers of mobility, and they include things like educational attainment, savings and asset building, and neighborhood poverty during childhood, among other things.
YDSTIE: Two-thirds of African-Americans grew up in poor neighborhoods and they are less likely to move up the economic ladder, and more likely to move down, than other Americans.
John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.
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