Getting More for Your Buck in Montana
A dollar goes further in Montana than in many areas of the country. In a non-metropolitan area like Montana a $100 can buy $109.61 worth of goods or $108.11 in Billings, compared to $87.86 in Los Angeles.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released data detailing the disparities in spending power across areas of each state in 2021. It compares how much $100 buys across the country. $100 tends to buy the least in large cities in the Northeast, California, and the Pacific Northwest, and more in rural areas in the Southeast and Midwest.
Prices can vary significantly within states too. In most states a dollar goes further in rural areas than in their metropolitan areas. In Missoula $100 buys $105.57 of goods and in Great Falls, $114.71. San Francisco is one of the lowest areas at $83.45. It buys the most in rural Arizona at $123.60.
The differences can be large and they have significant implications for the relative impact of economic and tax policies across the United States, state the Tax Foundation. “The differences can be large and they have significant implications for the relative impact of economic and tax policies across the United States.”
Many policies, such as minimum wage levels, tax brackets, and means-tested public benefit income thresholds, are denominated in nominal dollars, even though a dollar in one region may go much further than a dollar in another. Lawmakers should keep that reality in mind as they make changes to tax and economic policies, advises the Tax Foundation.
Montana might note that in most of our neighboring states, consumers get more bang for the buck, even when comparing metropolitan areas. North Dakota $111.85; South Dakota $114.46; Wyoming $109.75; Idaho $112.71; Bismarck $106.11; Fargo $108.02; Cheyenne $107.70; Casper $109.48; Boise $106.55; Coeur d’Alene $106.65.