What $100 Will Get You In Each State

Folks, it might be time to consider relocating. The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released a report measuring price disparities across different states and metropolitan areas. Interpreting the BEA's data (gathered for the year 2013), the Tax Foundation compared the real value of $100 in all 50 states and found that in Mississippi, Arkansas, and South Dakota, $100 will buy you more than if you live in New York, California, or Maryland.

Prices for the same items often vary between states (have you seen how cheap avocados are in California?), so the BEA's study examined the Regional Price Parities (or the difference in the price levels) in every state. The Tax Foundation mapped these differences onto an infographic comparing how far $100 will get you in each state.
Photo: Courtesy of Tax Foundation.
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To no one's surprise, the most expensive areas were Washington D.C. (where $100 would get you $84.96 worth of goods, compared to the national average) and Hawaii ($86.06). New York, New Jersey, and California were not far behind.

According to the folks at the Tax Foundation, this doesn't just mean that people in New York are probably paying way too much for toothpaste. It also means that people living in pricier states have to earn a higher salary just to reach the same standard of living as people living in more affordable places like Georgia and Oklahoma. "If you have $50,000 in after tax income in Mississippi, you would have to have after-tax earnings of $68,000 in the District of Columbia just to afford the same overall standard of living," Alan Cole and Scott Drenkard write in their report.

While there are some examples of businesses adjusting incomes to account for higher costs of living, there are plenty of people working low-income jobs in states where $100 doesn't stretch as far. The findings make a strong argument for $15 minimum wages in places like New York and California.

Perhaps most interesting are the states where the cost of living is low, but the average salaries are high. Your money will go further in Nebraska than in California, so the average incomes in the Midwest state are higher when adjusted to consider purchasing power.
Photo: Courtesy of Tax Foundation.
Too bad winters in Nebraska are so brutal.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that New York was the second-most expensive state. Hawaii is the second-most expensive state, where $100 is only worth $86.06.

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