The Washington Post

Map: How much $100 is really worth in hundreds of metropolitan areas

One hundred dollars can buy anywhere from $81 worth of goods and services to nearly $126, depending on your metropolitan area.

On Monday, we posted a map produced by the Tax Foundation that used first-ever government data released this year to show how the real value of $100 varies by state. As that map showed, a variety of factors conspire to make Hawaii the state where $100 buys you the least ($85.32) and Mississippi the state where it can buy the most ($115.74).

The Tax Foundation dove into the data again, this time to produce the map below of the relative value of $100 by metropolitan area, at least for the more than 380 areas where data were available. Naturally, the variation is greater: $100  is only worth about $81.37 in urban Honolulu, but it can buy you roughly $125.94 in goods and services in Danville, Ill.

The real value of $100 in various metro areas. (Tax Foundation)

In roughly six of seven metro areas, the purchasing power of $100 is greater than its face value, according to our review of the original government data, produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The remaining metro areas are like Honolulu: $100 buys you less than that in goods and services.

The implications of the relative value of money abound. It can influence migration patterns and tax decisions made by policymakers. It can also determine the value of federal assistance: 100 welfare dollars may not buy as much in Honolulu as in Danville. In introducing the new statistics in April, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker even said as much in a statement: “For the first time, Americans looking to move or take a job anywhere in the country can compare inflation-adjusted incomes across states and metropolitan areas to better understand how their personal income may be affected by a job change or move,” she said.

In all, the federal government produced the statistics for more than 380 metro areas, all of which can be pulled up in the Tax Foundation’s interactive map.

Here’s the state map the Tax Foundation published Monday:

Real value of $100 by state. (Tax Foundation)
Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.



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