Apparently, $100 is not worth $100 everywhere in America. At least that is the conclusion of a study from the Tax Foundation, which has provided this sort of information since 1937. For example, $100 is worth $115.74 in Mississippi, which would hint that it is a good place to live, at least financially.
Of course, Mississippi is among America’s worst off states, based on measurements that include poverty, education, health and income. That makes the “high value” $100 less appealing.
To explain the variables in measuring what $100 is worth by state, the Tax Foundation points out:
Because average prices for similar goods are much higher in California or New York than in Mississippi or South Dakota, the same amount of dollars will buy you comparatively less in the high-price states, or comparatively more in low-price states. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that we’ve written about previously, we adjust the value of $100 to reflect how prices are different in each state.
So, it is either better or worse to live in a poor state, depending on what one earns along with how little one cares about the reason a state is poor.
In sum, the top and bottom of the list:
The states where $100 is worth the least are the District of Columbia ($84.60), Hawaii ($85.32), New York ($86.66), New Jersey ($87.64), and California ($88.57). That same money goes the furthest in Mississippi ($115.74), Arkansas ($114.16), Missouri ($113.51), Alabama (113.51), and South Dakota ($113.38).
All this analysis becomes confused when residents of a state have relatively high incomes, but the economy of the same state drives a low cost of living.
As it happens, states with high incomes tend to have high price levels. This is hardly surprising, as both high incomes and high prices can correlate with high levels of economic activity. However, this relationship isn’t strictly linear: for example, some states, like North Dakota, have high incomes without high prices.
North Dakota ranks third lowest among the states in population at 723,000, behind only Vermont and Wyoming, so there is plenty of room there for people who want to stretch $100.