How Much Does $100 Really Buy in Your State?

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Mississippi residents are about 15 percent richer than their incomes suggest, at least for the purposes of day-to-day living expenses.

That’s one way to look at a state-by-state analysis released Wednesday by the nonprofit Tax Foundation. The results map out how much $100 buys in each state and the District of Columbia.

The same goods are often cheaper in some states and more expensive in others. Mississippi is where $100 buys you the most stuff. Washington, D.C., is where $100 gives you the least bang for your buck.

The states where $100 is worth the most are:

  • Mississippi ($115.21)
  • Arkansas ($114.29)
  • South Dakota ($114.16)
  • Alabama ($114.03)
  • West Virginia ($113.12)

That same $100 is worth the least in:

  • District of Columbia ($84.96)
  • Hawaii ($86.06)
  • New York ($86.73)
  • New Jersey ($87.34)
  • California ($89.05)

These findings are based on the latest price data (which is for 2013) published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a federal agency that tracks purchasing power.

The foundation offers a summary of the results:

Regional price differences are strikingly large; real purchasing power is 36 percent greater in Mississippi than it is in the District of Columbia. In other words: By this measure, 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.

Income also impacts the results, because states with higher income generally have higher prices, the foundation notes. However, those higher incomes effectively make up for those states’ lower purchasing power.

The Tax Foundation does not specify whether state or local sales taxes were taken into consideration in its rankings. (According to the foundation’s 2015 data, combined state and average local sales taxes range from a high of 9.45 percent in Tennessee down to zero in about a half-dozen states that don’t tax sales.)

To view the Tax Foundation’s map of the real value of $100, click here. To view its map of sales taxes, click here.

Are you surprised by how your state fared? Share your thoughts in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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