Byron Schlomach of the 1889 Institute has ranked the states not only according to their residents’ personal income, but also adjusting that personal income for cost of living:
When states’ average personal incomes are adjusted for their cost of living, it radically changes the picture of which states are the most prosperous. Apparently prosperous California sinks below Mississippi. Oklahoma, middling in official statistics, rises to actually outrank Massachusetts. Texas ends up in the top 10. Apparently prosperous states that have high costs of living are shown not to be so prosperous after all, once you account for how little that can be purchased with those high incomes. And as it turns out, high-cost states tend to be “blue” in their voting patterns while low-cost states tend to be “red,” politically.
By Scholmach’s calculation, Rhode Island starts out in the middle of the pack, at 18th for personal income, which is 4th of the 6 New England states. Adjust for the cost of living, and Rhode Island falls to 42nd in the country,
High taxes, a government that likes to impose itself on the people, and low personal income in light of the cost of living are, let’s say, likely to explain a good deal of wave of Rhode Islanders who’ve left the state in recent decades.