While a dollar bill looks and feels the same all over the United States, its value is often very different depending on where it is spent.
The prices of housing, food, and services vary considerably across the country. To shed light on these differences that reflect the relative purchasing power of Americans in every state, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the value of a dollar in each using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The value of a dollar, of course, is higher in places where goods and services are less expensive. For the most part, the areas with a low cost of living are in the South. By contrast, the most expensive states — where the dollar is worth the least — are home to some of the nation’s largest urban clusters.
Much of the differences between the states’ cost of living result from divergences in housing costs. For example, with Hawaii’s relatively high housing prices, a dollar spent on rent there is worth only 61 cents. A dollar spent on rent in Arkansas, on the other hand, delivers essentially $1.58 in value.
States with large shares of residents living in expensive housing within urban areas account for the vast majority of the states where a dollar is worth the least. A dollar is generally worth much more in states, particularly in the South, where a smaller share of residents live in cities.