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What it truly costs to fill up in your state

What it truly costs to fill up in your state


What it truly costs to fill up in your state


Are you thrilled by cheap gas prices when you travel through the deep South or stunned by how pricey they are when you visit New York?

Just remember those extremes aren’t as easy, or hard, on your wallet as they seem.

According to conventional wisdom, the Southeast is usually the cheapest region of the country for gasoline, while the Northeast is among the most expensive.

And that’s true, based purely on price per gallon.

But when you factor in average gasoline usage and local wages, the yearly cost of filling up looks a lot different.

With the Labor Day travel weekend approaching, a new study by GasBuddy reveals that the average amount of local labor needed to fill up your car is lowest in several states in the Northeast. Meanwhile, several states in the southeast are comparably more expensive.

“There are some surprises here,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy. “You tend to see areas that are more rural that have challenged incomes or lower median hourly wages where the true cost of filling up is more hard work than other areas.”

To gauge the true cost of filling up, GasBuddy calculated the average amount of gasoline consumed per driver for every state, average hourly wages in those states and the average gas price for each state as of Aug. 1.

That allowed the researchers to assess “how much work it would take” to fill up for a year, DeHaan said.

The upshot is that states in the Southeast, which is usually one of the cheapest areas in the country to fill up, are surprisingly expensive.

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For example, Mississippi, which had the second-lowest average price per gallon in the country on Thursday ($2.20), ranks as the fifth most expensive state in the country, requiring an average of 100.3 hours of work to pay for a year’s worth of gas.

On the flip side, Hawaii, which had the highest average price per gallon on Thursday ($3.66), is actually the 11th cheapest state in the country, requiring an average of 80.4 hours of work to pay for a year’s worth of gas.

People living in most Northeast states need the fewest number of hours worked to pay for their gas. Measured by these standards, the cheapest state in the country is Massachusetts at only 66.8 hours, followed by Connecticut at 70.6, Maryland at 71.7, New York at 73.8, Rhode Island at 75.4 and Delaware at 76.8.

One big reason: People don’t drive as much in the Northeast, where mass transit options are more prevalent.

“That’s, I’m sure, a factor,” DeHaan said.

Some states that have a high cost per gallon also rank as the most expensive when measured by the number of hours worked to pay for a year’s worth of gas.

Nevada, which had the fourth-highest price per gallon on Thursday ($3.12), requires the most hours worked at 107.7, according to GasBuddy.

That means Nevadans are spending over a full, 40-hour workweek more on gas than Massachusetts motorists.

Here’s the full list of states, ranked by the number of hours the average person needs to work to afford a year of gas, according to GasBuddy:

  1. Nevada 107.7
  2. Montana 107.4
  3. Idaho 107.1
  4. South Dakota 101.4
  5. Mississippi 100.3
  6. Oregon 100.1
  7. West Virginia 98.8
  8. Arkansas 98.2
  9. Utah 97.0
  10. California 95.5
  11. Kentucky 94.8
  12. Indiana 94.4
  13. Nebraska 93.2
  14. Oklahoma 92.9
  15. Wyoming 92.7
  16. Michigan 92.4
  17. New Mexico 92.4
  18. Alaska 92.1
  19. Louisiana 91.4
  20. Arizona 91.1
  21. Alabama 91.0
  22. South Carolina 91.0
  23. North Dakota 90.8
  24. Maine 90.6
  25. Kansas 90.5
  26. Tennessee 90.4
  27. Iowa 89.7
  28. Missouri 89.1
  29. Wisconsin 89.0
  30. Pennsylvania 86.6
  31. Ohio 88.1
  32. North Carolina 88.1
  33. Florida 88.1
  34. Georgia 88.1
  35. Illinois 87.9
  36. Texas 86.5
  37. Washington 84.9
  38. Vermont 82.9
  39. New Hampshire 82.7
  40. Hawaii 80.4
  41. Colorado 79.8
  42. Minnesota 78.9
  43. New Jersey 78.7
  44. Virginia 76.8
  45. Delaware 76.8
  46. Rhode Island 75.4
  47. New York 73.8
  48. Maryland 71.7
  49. Connecticut 70.6
  50. Massachusetts 66.8

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.


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