Here’s Where Gas Prices Are Eating Into Residents’ Incomes The Most
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Gas prices relative to local incomes are highest in Nevada and other states in the western part of the country, according to an analysis from HiRoad.

The insurance company compared localized fuel price data from GasBuddy with average hourly salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thereby revealing where Americans are spending the largest portions of their earnings to fill their vehicles. One gallon of gas in Nevada will cost 29.6% of the typical worker’s salary for one hour, according to the analysis. Residents of neighboring Idaho are spending 27.3% of an hour’s salary on each gallon of gas.

“In Nevada, drivers can also expect to spend more annually on gas than drivers in Idaho, despite the fact that Idahoans are expected to have a higher local driving distance per year, on average,” the company said. “Nevadans find themselves again on the wrong end of the gas affordability spectrum.”

Other states with exceedingly high gas prices relative to wages are California, Indiana, Hawaii, and Arizona, while the states with the most affordable gas relative to wages are Massachusetts, Colorado, Virginia, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Oregon, Nevada, Indiana, Alaska, and Washington saw rises in relative gas prices higher than 4% between 2021 and 2022.

Residents of western states also spend the most overall on fuel consumption. The average driver in Wyoming, a “sparsely populated, largely rural state with fewer remote jobs than elsewhere in the country,” will spend an average of $2,233 on gas each year, according to the analysis. Indiana, however, saw the largest increase with respect to total annual expenditures; residents spent an extra $363 on fuel between 2021 and 2022.

More granular local data reveal that localities in California cities spend the greatest share of their hourly earnings on fuel, followed by municipalities in other western states such as Colorado and Idaho.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, California has the most metro areas where drivers can expect to spend the biggest chunk of their average hourly salary on a gallon of gas,” the analysis said. “In fact, four of the top five spots are taken by Californian metro areas.”

National average gas prices are currently $3.52 per gallon, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, reflecting a rapid increase from $3.33 per gallon earlier this month and $3.42 per gallon at the same time last year. The current national average price per gallon is 48% higher than the price recorded at the start of the Biden administration. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre nevertheless claimed on Monday that “House Republicans are using their narrow majority to force the American people to pay higher gas prices, just as big oil companies are amassing record profits.”

President Joe Biden nixed expansions to the Keystone XL Pipeline upon his entrance into office and has leased less federal land for oil drilling than any of his predecessors over the past several decades. White House officials have claimed that recent decreases in gas prices from their record highs over the summer are still attributable to policies advanced by the commander-in-chief. “Every month, the typical two-driver family saves about $120 at the pump compared to where we were in mid-June,” Jean-Pierre said in October.

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