California Gas Prices Are Most Expensive, but You’ll Work Longer in These States To Afford It

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It’s a well-known fact that California has the highest gas prices in the country, much higher than today’s national average price for regular grade gas. In some parts of the state, higher than the federal minimum hourly wage. However, for non-Californians thinking “it serves them right for living in the land of milk and honey,” California residents might not have it as bad at the pumps as you may think.

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According to a CNN study, wages dictate gas prices to a very significant degree. For example, as incredible as California gas prices seem, its residents don’t bear as big of a brunt as workers in other states due to earning a higher average hourly wage. For its study, CNN used the national average gas price (on that day) and the May national wage estimate to find that, with the exception of Massachusetts workers who only have to work 1 hour and 55 minutes to afford 15 gallons of regular gas, workers earning the state average wage need to work between 2 hours and 4 minutes (Colorado) and 2 hours and 57 minutes (Nevada) to buy 15 gallons of gas.

Make Your Money Work for You

Taking a cue from the CNN study, GOBankingRates figured how long workers making minimum wage — far less than the state average hourly wage — would need to spend on the job to buy 10 gallons of regular gas in their state. As of June 10, AAA calculated national average cost for regular unleaded gasoline at $4.986, and $5.753 for diesel. Once again, both are the highest recorded average prices. The federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 per hour has been unchanged since 2009, when it was raised from $6.55 per hour.

The following list ranks each state according to how many hours you need to work to buy 10 gallons of gas in your state:

50. Massachusetts

  • Regular gas: $5.03
  • Minimum wage: $14.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 25 minutes

49. New York

  • Regular gas: $5.02
  • Minimum wage: $13.20
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 48 minutes

48. Washington

  • Regular gas: $5.53
  • Minimum wage: $14.49
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 49 minutes
Make Your Money Work for You

47. Connecticut

  • Regular gas: $4.97
  • Minimum wage: $13.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 49 minutes

46. Colorado

  • Regular gas: $4.83
  • Minimum wage: $12.56
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 51 minutes

45. New Jersey

  • Regular gas: $5.04
  • Minimum wage: $13.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 53 minutes

44. Maine

  • Regular gas: $5.05
  • Minimum wage: $12.75
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 58 minutes

43. Maryland

  • Regular gas: $4.99
  • Minimum wage: $12.50
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 3 hours and 59 minutes

42. Vermont

  • Regular gas: $5.03
  • Minimum wage: $12.55
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 1 minute

41. Rhode Island

  • Regular gas: $5.01
  • Minimum wage: $12.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 5 minutes

40. Arkansas

  • Regular gas: $4.51
  • Minimum wage: $11.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 6 minutes

39. Missouri

  • Regular gas: $4.58
  • Minimum wage: $11.15
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 7 minutes
Make Your Money Work for You

38. Arizona

  • Regular gas: $5.30
  • Minimum wage: $12.80
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 8 minutes

37. New Mexico

  • Regular gas: $4.82
  • Minimum wage: $11.50
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 11 minutes

36. Oregon

  • Regular gas: $5.52
  • Minimum wage: $12.75
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 20 minutes

35. Virginia

  • Regular gas: $4.81
  • Minimum wage: $11.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 22 minutes

34. California

  • Regular gas: $6.42
  • Minimum wage: $14.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 35 minutes

33. Minnesota

  • Regular gas: $4.74
  • Minimum wage: $10.33
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 35 minutes

32. Illinois

  • Regular gas: $5.56
  • Minimum wage: $12.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 38 minutes

31. South Dakota

  • Regular gas: $4.70
  • Minimum wage: $9.95
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 43 minutes

30. Delaware

  • Regular gas: $4.98
  • Minimum wage: $10.50
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 44 minutes

29. Florida

  • Regular gas: $4.83
  • Minimum wage: $10.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 4 hours and 50 minutes

28. Nebraska

  • Regular gas: $4.68
  • Minimum wage: $9.00
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 12 minutes

27. Montana

  • Regular gas: $4.84
  • Minimum wage: $9.20
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 16 minutes

26. Michigan

  • Regular gas: $5.22
  • Minimum wage: $9.87
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 17 minutes

25. Alaska

  • Regular gas: $5.55
  • Minimum wage: $10.34
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 21 minutes

24. Ohio

  • Regular gas: $5.06
  • Minimum wage: $9.30
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 26 minutes

23. Hawaii

  • Regular gas: $5.52
  • Minimum wage: $10.10
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 28 minutes

22. West Virginia

  • Regular gas: $4.89
  • Minimum wage: $8.75
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 35 minutes

21. Nevada

  • Regular gas: $5.62
  • Minimum wage: $9.75
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 5 hours and 46 minutes

20. Georgia

  • Regular gas: $4.43
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 7 minutes

19. Mississippi

  • Regular gas: $4.51
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 13 minutes

18. Louisiana

  • Regular gas: $4.52
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 14 minutes

17. Oklahoma

  • Regular gas: $4.60
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 20 minutes

16. South Carolina

  • Regular gas: $4.60
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 20 minutes

15. Kansas

  • Regular gas: $4.61
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 22 minutes

14. Alabama

  • Regular gas: $4.62
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 22 minutes

13. Tennessee

  • Regular gas: $4.64
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 24 minutes

12. Texas

  • Regular gas: $4.65
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 25 minutes

11. North Carolina

  • Regular gas: $4.66
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 26 minutes

10. North Dakota

  • Regular gas: $4.70
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 29 minutes

9. Wyoming

  • Regular gas: $4.72
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 31 minutes

8. Iowa

  • Regular gas: $4.73
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 31 minutes

7. Kentucky

  • Regular gas: $4.80
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 37 minutes

6. Wisconsin

  • Regular gas: $4.92
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 47 minutes

5. New Hampshire

  • Regular gas: $4.98
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 52 minutes

4. Utah

  • Regular gas: $5.01
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 55 minutes

3. Pennsylvania

  • Regular gas: $5.06
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 6 hours and 59 minutes

2. Idaho

  • Regular gas: $5.08
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 7 hours and 1 minute

1. Indiana

  • Regular gas: $5.23
  • Minimum wage: $7.25
  • Work hours needed to buy 10 gallons of regular gas: 7 hours and 13 minutes

Obviously, working in states that have a lower minimum wage means you have to work more to afford gas. When we look at the Dakotas, for example, we can see how impactful minimum wage is to buying power. Gas costs the same in both, yet because South Dakota’s minimum wage is more than $2.00 higher than North’s bottom level minimum wage of $7.25, Southerners work less time to buy more.

Employers in states that do not have a minimum wage (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee) or that have a minimum wage below the federal minimum wage (Georgia and Wyoming) are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act and required to pay their employees at least the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, per the Department of Labor.

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It’s evident from the data that the federal minimum wage is vitally important to the personal finances of millions of workers despite state gas prices. Wages are most important to those living in one of the 20 states where minimum wage is $7.25 \per hour. When gas prices and inflation are at their current staggering highs, minimum wage earners get hit the hardest.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.

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