Special Report

States Where People Can't Afford a Big Mac


To identify the “true cost” of a Big Mac in each state, 24/7 Wall St. adjusted Big Mac prices in each state by the state’s disposable income per capita (income after taxes) and cost of living. We indexed each state’s cost of living and disposable income to national levels, and used the indices to adjust the cost of a Big Mac to find the “true cost.” (In other words, if all U.S. residents earned the same income, paid the same taxes, and had the same cost of living, then this is how much they would pay for the Big Mac considering the Big Mac price in their state.) The 50 states and the District of Columbia are ranked by the “true cost” of a Big Mac.

Big Mac prices came from Fast Food Menu Prices and are recent as of September. The national average price of a Big Mac of $5.15 came from The Economist’s Big Mac data repository for the publication’s Big Mac Index. Disposable income per capita figures are for 2021 and came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national per capita disposable income was $55,671 that year. Regional price parities for 2020, which express the cost of living in the state, are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While we partly emulated Pantry and Larder’s methodology, ours takes a different approach.  

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