One hundred dollars looks a lot different depending on where you are in the United States: In Mississippi, for example, it's worth $117, while in New York, it's worth about $86.
The BEA looked at regional price parities (RPPs), which express a region's price level relative to the U.S. as a whole. The BEA analyzed prices of "all consumption goods and services, including housing rents" and found that "areas with high/low RPPs typically correspond to areas with high/low price levels for rents."
States with the highest RPPs are Hawaii, New York and California. Sure enough, rental prices in those states are among the highest in the nation. Those with the lowest RPPs are Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama.
To help put the RPPs into perspective, the Tax Foundation adjusted the value of $100 to show how much it would buy you in every state.
Click on the chart to enlarge.
The regional price differences are significant, the Tax Foundation reports. Real purchasing power is about 35% greater in Mississippi than in New York. "In other words, by this measure, if you have $50,000 in after-tax income in Mississippi, you would need after-tax earnings of $67,500 in New York just to afford the same overall standard of living," the report says.
Places with high costs of living do typically pay higher salaries for the same jobs to make up for the low purchasing power, and vice versa. But that's not always the case, the Tax Foundation says: "Some states, like North Dakota, have high incomes without high prices."
That matters because "adjusting incomes for price level can substantially change our perceptions of which states are truly poor or rich."
Take North Dakota and Vermont, where residents earn about the same amount: $52,000 per year. After adjusting for price parity, though, real income in North Dakota is nearly $7,000 more.
Editor's Note: The Tax Foundation omits Washington, D.C. from the ranking on the map, as it's not technically a state, but includes the relative value of $100 in DC ($85.54) on the sidebar. If D.C. was include in the rankings, it would rank No. 50 and Hawaii would rank No. 51.
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