Minimum Wage and Cost of Living

We already looked at minimum wage over time and saw how some states match the federal limit, some pay above, and others have no limit. But when it comes to geography and income, you also have to consider the cost of living.

One dollar in Kentucky or Arkansas won’t get you as much in Hawaii or California, because it costs more to live in the latter states.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has an estimate for this difference. It’s called Regional Price Parity, which considers spending in each state and compares it against national price levels. Each estimate is expressed as a percentage.

For example, Hawaii had the highest RPP in 2019 at 119.3, meaning the cost of goods and housing was 19.3% higher than national price levels.

If we use the RPP to estimate the value of $100 in each state and plot the result against minimum wage over time, we get the chart below.

 

Generally speaking, the states that are more expensive to live in have a higher minimum wage to compensate. In contrast, the states with no minimum wage tend to have a lower cost of living.

The sweet spot is that upper right quadrant where both minimum wage and value of your dollar are relatively high. While no states make it all the way to the top right, Arizona is looking decent in that regard. Going the other direction, if I were living on minimum wage, I might want to steer clear of New Hampshire.

Become a member. Support an independent site. Make great charts.

See What You Get

Learn to Visualize Data See All →

How to Make Maps in R That Include Alaska and Hawaii

The conterminous United States always gets the attention, while Alaska and Hawaii are often left out. It is time to bring them back into view.

Voronoi Diagram and Delaunay Triangulation in R

The deldir package by Rolf Turner makes the calculations and plotting straightforward, with a few lines of code.

Getting Started with D3.js

Learn how to build a custom visualization using D3.js and get acquainted with the popular JavaScript library.

How to Make Venn Diagrams in R

The usually abstract, qualitative and sometimes quantitative chart type shows relationships. You can make them in R, if you must.

Favorites

Unemployment in America, Mapped Over Time

Watch the regional changes across the country from 1990 to 2016.

Shifts in How Couples Meet, Online Takes the Top

How do couples meet now and how has it changed over the years? Watch the rankings play out over six decades.

19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

How the American Work Day Changed in 15 Years

The American Time Use Survey recently released results for 2018. That makes 15 years of data. What’s different? What’s the same?