Rising gas prices hit Mississippi the hardest

Mississippi residents spend a whopping 13.2% of their income on gas, whereas New Yorkers spend less than 5%. Click the map for all state rates.Mississippi residents spend 13.2% of their income on gas, whereas New Yorkers spend less than 5%. Click the map for all state rates. By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hey California, stop whining about $4 gas. As gas prices have surged 13% over the last month, Mississippi is feeling the worst pain at the pump.

Sure, Californians pay some of the highest gas prices in the nation at $3.92 per gallon. But for economic reasons, the Magnolia State has it much worse, even with prices at $3.42.

Gasoline prices and taxes by state
Prices at the pump can vary widely among states due to a number of factors. More

Families in Mississippi are the lowest paid in the country, and yet they spend the highest portion of their income on gas, according to new data from the Oil Price Information Service.

"When you live in California or New York, where things are close by and there's public transit, that's great -- but we don't have those options here," said Hilary Hamblin, a Tupelo, Miss. resident who said her family typically spends about 10% of their monthly income on gas alone.

That's not uncommon in the state. Mississippi families earn a median household income of about $37,000 -- the lowest in the country -- but spend a whopping $402 per month, or 13.2% on gas.

In contrast, Californians earn a median of $59,000 per household, and spend about $380, or 7.8% of their income on gas each month.

The Mississippi economy is already grappling with high unemployment and low high school graduation rates -- which keep local incomes down. Add in a history of racial inequality, which still affects the economy -- and that makes Mississippi one of the poorest states, said Marianne Hill, senior economist with the Center for Policy Research in Jackson, Miss.

Rural populations are hypersensitive to rising gas prices, Hill said, not only because they usually have lower incomes, but because they drive longer distances to work, school and shopping.

"It has a big impact, and particularly hits a rural state like Mississippi hard because so many people have to commute," Hill said.

Tracy Lewis and her husband own a chain of auto body shops in Hattiesburg, Miss., and often spend more than $40 a day filling up the tank of their company van. But that's not all. Rising gas prices are also affecting the company bottom line in other ways.

"When gas prices go up so do our paint, materials and supplies," she said. "It's killing us and others around us from many angles."

Meanwhile, one of the richest states, New York, is the least affected by rising gas prices, even though its fuel is the fifth most expensive in the country. New Yorkers boast a median household income of $55,000 but spend only 5% -- or about $225 per month -- on gas, as many residents use public transit instead.

How are higher gas prices affecting you and your community? Tell us about it and you could be included in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.com.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,805.41 127.51 0.76%
Nasdaq 4,483.72 30.92 0.69%
S&P 500 1,964.58 13.76 0.71%
Treasuries 2.27 -0.00 -0.09%
Data as of 3:55pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 13.78 -0.62 -4.31%
Microsoft Corp 46.13 1.11 2.47%
Apple Inc 105.22 0.39 0.37%
Bank of America Corp... 16.72 0.12 0.72%
Yahoo! Inc 43.50 0.90 2.11%
Data as of Oct 24

Sections

New York headlines took a straight forward and direct approach with NYC's Ebola news. More

The midterm elections are around the corner, and the economy remains a top concern. With unemployment down and inflation low, why do people still feel the economy stinks? More

Shares of Facebook recently topped $80. They've more than quadrupled from their post-IPO lows of two years ago. Can Mark Zuckerberg keep the momentum in mobile going? More

Host a furniture market. Here's how small town High Point, N.C. rakes in this much money -- twice a year. More

If you're looking to fly this holiday season, the clock's ticking to get the best prices. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.