Can Minimum Wage Workers Afford To Get To Work?

Can minimum wage workers afford to get to work? Not in these 18 cities, a new study shows. The study lists 18 cities where gas costs over 80% of the minimum wage paycheck.

For minimum wage employees and low-income commuters, an hour of work may barely cover the cost of the gas needed to get there.

Rising inflation has hit everyone hard, but minimum wage workers, as always, get hit the hardest. The most basic of essentials are becoming out of reach as prices on food, rent, and other essentials rise rapidly.

Gas prices have risen since the beginning of 2022, and minimum wage workers struggle to get to work every day.

Gas prices are still elevated as prices slowly stabilize, and some minimum-wage workers still feel the strain. This study showed that at least 18 cities have gas prices that cost over 80% of a minimum wage paycheck.

The team at MRO ran the numbers, comparing gas prices to each state’s minimum wage. Then, using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and GasBuddy, they calculated what percent of a day’s pay it takes to fill a full tank across 100 cities.

Where Does Gas Cost Over 80% Of Minimum Wage Paycheck?

#1 Atlanta, GA – 110.6%

#2 Boise City, ID – 93.1%

#3 Ogden, UT – 92.4%

#4 Salt Lake City, UT; Provo, UT – 92.3%

#5 Scranton, PA – 87.3%

#6 Pittsburgh, PA – 86.9%

#7 Harrisburg, PA – 86.4%

#8 Philadelphia, PA – 85.9%

#9 Allentown, PA – 85.5%

#10 Louisville, KY; Knoxville, TN – 82.3%

#11 Durham, NC – 82.1%

#12 New Orleans, LA – 81.7%

#13 Memphis, TN – 81.0%

#14 Indianapolis, IN – 80.9%

#15 Nashville, TN – 80.7%

#16 Charlotte, NC – 80.1%


Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and GasBuddy, they collected the minimum wage in each state and the mean gas price in 100 U.S. cities in April 2022. Then, they divided the minimum wage in each state by the average gas price in each city to determine how much gas a minimum wage worker can purchase with one hour of work.

The state collected the basic minimum rate per hour for all minimum wage amounts by state, as the Department of Labor listed. Gas prices constantly fluctuate, so they may differ from the time frame they pulled the data.

Struggling with gas prices? With rising prices comes the opportunity to save big on fuel costs. We spoke to experts on the seven best ways to save money at the pump.


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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.