Special Report

How the Cost of Living in North Carolina Compares to the Nation

Inflation is on the rise at a historic pace in the United States. The consumer price index surged 7.5% on an annual basis in January 2022, the highest increase in about 40 years. While wages have also climbed, they have not increased enough to offset rising prices for the typical American worker.

Inflation is being driven in large part by supply chain disruptions, which are limiting production capacity and the availability of certain goods and ultimately leading to higher prices. Pent-up consumer demand in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns across the globe is exacerbating the problem. Recently, consumers have been feeling the pinch, particularly through higher food, housing, and energy prices.

While consumers across the country are paying more for goods and services now than they were a year ago, exactly how much they are paying depends largely on where they live, as some states have a far higher cost of living than others.

In North Carolina, the cost of living is 4.3% lower than it is on average nationwide, according to the Composite Cost of Living Index published by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Overall, the cost of living in North Carolina ranks as the 22nd lowest among states. It is important to note that this index reflects the annual average cost of living in 2021 and does not account for recent price increases due to inflation.

Of the five specific consumer categories factored into the index – groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and health care – health care ranks as the most expensive in North Carolina relative to national prices, costing about 9.0% more than average. Meanwhile, housing is the least expensive consumer category relative to national averages, with prices about 11.4% lower than they are nationwide.

 

Rank State Cost of living Most expensive category Least expensive category Median household income ($)
1 Hawaii 93.3% more than avg. Housing Health care 83,102
2 New York 48.2% more than avg. Housing Utilities 72,108
3 California 42.2% more than avg. Housing Health care 80,440
4 Massachusetts 35% more than avg. Housing Utilities 85,843
5 Oregon 30.1% more than avg. Housing Utilities 67,058
6 Alaska 27.1% more than avg. Utilities Transportation 75,463
7 Maryland 24% more than avg. Housing Health care 86,738
8 Connecticut 21.6% more than avg. Housing Groceries 78,833
9 Rhode Island 17.2% more than avg. Utilities Health care 71,169
10 Vermont 17% more than avg. Housing Health care 63,001
11 New Jersey 15.2% more than avg. Housing Health care 85,751
12 Maine 15% more than avg. Housing Groceries 58,924
13 Washington 11.6% more than avg. Health care Utilities 78,687
14 New Hampshire 9.9% more than avg. Health care Transportation 77,933
15 Delaware 7.9% more than avg. Groceries Utilities 70,176
16 Nevada 6.3% more than avg. Transportation Utilities 63,276
17 Colorado 5.3% more than avg. Housing Utilities 77,127
18 Arizona 3.2% more than avg. Housing Health care 62,055
19 Pennsylvania 2.5% more than avg. Utilities Health care 63,463
20 Idaho 2.1% more than avg. Transportation Utilities 60,999
21 Virginia 1.8% more than avg. Housing Transportation 76,456
22 South Dakota 1% more than avg. Housing Transportation 59,533
23 Montana 0.7% more than avg. Housing Utilities 57,153
24 Florida 0.3% more than avg. Groceries Health care 59,227
25 Minnesota About avg. Health care Housing 74,593
26 Utah 1% less than avg. Transportation Utilities 75,780
27 North Dakota 1.8% less than avg. Health care Utilities 64,577
28 Wisconsin 3.6% less than avg. Health care Housing 64,168
29 North Carolina 4.3% less than avg. Health care Housing 57,341
30 Wyoming 5.7% less than avg. Groceries Housing 65,003
31 Illinois 5.7% less than avg. Transportation Housing 69,187
32 Nebraska 6.3% less than avg. Health care Housing 63,229
33 South Carolina 6.4% less than avg. Utilities Housing 56,227
34 Kentucky 6.9% less than avg. Utilities Housing 52,295
35 Louisiana 7% less than avg. Health care Housing 51,073
36 Texas 7.9% less than avg. Utilities Housing 64,034
37 Michigan 8.7% less than avg. Transportation Housing 59,584
38 Ohio 8.7% less than avg. Groceries Housing 58,642
39 New Mexico 9% less than avg. Health care Housing 51,945
40 Arkansas 9.1% less than avg. Groceries Housing 48,952
41 Indiana 9.4% less than avg. Utilities Housing 57,603
42 West Virginia 9.5% less than avg. Groceries Housing 48,850
43 Iowa 10.1% less than avg. Health care Housing 61,691
44 Missouri 10.2% less than avg. Utilities Housing 57,409
45 Tennessee 11% less than avg. Groceries Housing 56,071
46 Georgia 11.2% less than avg. Health care Housing 61,980
47 Oklahoma 12.1% less than avg. Utilities Housing 54,449
48 Alabama 12.1% less than avg. Utilities Housing 51,734
49 Kansas 13.5% less than avg. Health care Housing 62,087
50 Mississippi 16.7% less than avg. Health care Housing 45,792

 

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