- Earning $300,000 in New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu feels like earning $100,000.
- A study from SmartAsset found surging living costs are severely restricting buying power in big cities.
- Inflation surged to highs not seen since the 1980s in 2022, pushing the cost of living higher.
Americans living in New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu all need to earn in excess of $300,000 per year to have the purchasing power of $100,000 as persistent inflation drives up the cost of living, according to a new report.
Americans need to earn a significantly higher salary to enjoy the full value of that $100,000, financial technology company SmartAsset found in a study that analyzed how much the six-figure salary compared to the local cost of living in 76 of the largest US cities.
The study found that New York, San Francisco and Honolulu have the highest cost of living at over 80% above the national average. Residents in those cities would have to earn over $300,000 to actually feel like they have $100,000 coming in annually.
Honolulu topped the list requiring an income of $312,400 pre tax. New York came in at a close second with $312,000 needed, while San Francisco required $310,700.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Memphis, El Paso, and Oklahoma — all cities with a cost of living below the national average — had the lowest earnings needed to have $100,000 of purchasing power.
In Memphis, where the cost of living is 13.8% below national average, you’d need $117,100. In El Paso $119,300 would help you get by as the cost of living is 12.3% below average. Similarly, in Oklahoma a $120,300 salary would suffice.
Over half of Americans on high income salaries — above $100,000 — were living paycheck to paycheck in December as inflation outstripped wage growth, a survey in January showed. Those same high-income earners were struggling to keep up with monthly bills.
Since hitting a peak of over 9% in June 2022, inflation in the US has dropped steadily, but still remains elevated. In March, the rate of consumer price inflation was 5%, remaining significantly above average compared to the past 30 years.
In a similar survey by Smart Asset, New York also ranked highest for the cost of living compared to a $100,000 salary, with the six-figure sum feeling more like $36,000. Boston and Los Angeles followed closely behind with $100,000 equating to $46,000 and $45,000 respectively.
The high cost of living in New York stems from inflated rental prices and wages that are struggling to keep up, Bloomberg reported in October. Rent prices were up 13% in August 2022 compared to the previous year, while wages dropped 9% according to data from StreetEasy.