With no ceiling in sight for the climbing gas prices around the nation, many Americans are forced to adjust both their driving and spending habits to keep pace. Gone are the days of purchasing gas for under $2.00 per gallon. We now live in an era, where the price per gallon exceeds the federal minimum wage in certain locations––talk about pain at the pump.
Minimum wage workers and low-income commuters are suffering the most as an hour of work is barely enough to buy a single gallon of gas, which may be less than the amount of gas they need to drive to work in the first place. In California, a 12-gallon tank of gas costs minimum wage workers in some areas nearly 57% of a day’s pay. In some states like Pennsylvania and Utah, gas prices continue to rise, while minimum wage still sits at $7.25 an hour––where it’s sat for the last ten years, despite growing inflation rates.
To uncover where soaring gas prices are taking the biggest bite out of workers’ paychecks, MRO compared the minimum wage to the mean gas price in 100 U.S. cities. Read on to see where your city and state stack up.
Can Minimum Wage Workers Afford the Gas for Their Commute?
According to study results, Springfield, MA is where workers can get the most gas for their hard-earned dollars. Minimum wage workers in Springfield can purchase 3.54 gallons of gas with an hour of work––38% more gas than the national average. Worcester, MA, and Boston, MA follow where workers can buy 3.47 and 3.46 gallons, respectively, with an hour of work. While gas prices in Massachusetts are still high (above the $4 mark), the state’s healthy minimum wage ($14.25) helps counteract the surging prices at the pump.
At 3.43 and 3.41 gallons for an hour’s worth of work, Spokane, WA, and Baltimore, MD are additional cities where hourly workers can get the most gas for their buck. In these cities, minimum wage workers can at least afford the gas needed for their work commutes with the money they make in an hour.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, minimum wage workers who make $5.15 per hour in Atlanta, GA can only purchase 1.36 gallons of gas with one hour of work––56% less than the national average. If the average commute in the U.S. requires 1.28 gallons of gas, then these Atlanta workers can just barely get to work and back with a full hour’s worth of pay.
Cities like Boise City, ID (1.61 GL), Salt Lake City, UT (1.62 GL), and Philadelphia, PA(1.75 GL) are similar in that minimum wage workers cannot afford to purchase even two gallons of gas with the money they make in an hour. What’s more, in each of these cities, purchasing a full tank of gas (12 gallons) would require 85% or more of a minimum wage worker’s daily pay.
Next, we found the five states with the largest difference between minimum wage and average gas prices. Topping the list is Washington state. With a minimum wage of $14.49 and the average price per gallon of gas at $4.23, minimum wage workers in Spokane, WA can purchase 3.43 gallons of gas with one hour of work. Minimum wage workers in Seattle, WA can purchase 3.00 gallons of gas with one hour of work. What’s more, a full tank of gas (12 gallons) costs minimum wage workers in Seattle, WA 50.1% of their pay that day.
With a minimum wage of $14.25 and the average price per gallon of gas at $4.12, minimum wage workers in Boston, MA can purchase 3.46 gallons of gas with one hour of work. Additionally, a full tank of gas costs minimum wage workers in Boston, MA over 43% of a day’s pay.
In Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, minimum wage workers can purchase 3.40 gallons of gas with one hour of work. In New Haven, CT, home of Yale University, that number drops to 3.35 gallons. Therefore, a full tank of gas costs minimum wage workers in Hartford and New Haven nearly 45% of a day’s pay.
With a minimum wage of $13.20 and the average price per gallon of gas at $4.27, minimum wage workers in Rochester, New York can purchase 3.09 gallons of gas with one hour of work. Minimum wage workers in Buffalo, NY, and Albany, NY could purchase 3.13 and 3.17 gallons of gas, respectively.
In Baltimore, MD, minimum wage workers can purchase 3.41 gallons of gas with one hour of work. Additionally, a full tank of gas costs minimum wage workers in Baltimore almost 44% of their pay that day.
That wraps up our study, comparing gas prices to minimum wage amounts around the U.S. Gas prices continue to be a dire issue across the country in 2022, as well as a harrowing expense for lower-income Americans who are also struggling to keep up with rising food prices and housing costs.
While MRO Electric can’t control the cost of gas, we can offer the parts and equipment you need to keep things getting from A to B. Get in touch with us today by emailing email@example.com or calling us at 800-691-8511 for a quote.
Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and GasBuddy, we collected the minimum wage in each state and the mean gas price in 100 U.S. cities in April 2022. We divided the minimum wage in each state by the average gas price in each city to determine how much gas a minimum wage worker can purchase with one hour of work. For all minimum wage amounts by state, we collected the basic minimum rate per hour, as listed by the Department of Labor. Gas prices are always fluctuating, so prices may differ from the time frame the data was pulled.