Renewed Concerns Over Regional Cost of Living

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Wisconsin IDEA

Insight • Data • Economics • Analysis

Wisconsin Ranks 30th According to Index on Cost of Consumer Goods and Services

With rates of inflation not seen in years coupled with the rising costs of housing, concerns over costs of living have been renewed.  But costs of living vary greatly across the U.S. 

Consider, for example, the cost of renting an apartment is $2,505 monthly in Austin, Texas, $4,031 in Boston, but only $1,650 in Milwaukee.  Alternatively, a gallon of milk costs an average of $3.53 in Cincinnati, Ohio, $4.73 in Chicago, and $5.76 in Kansas City.  To gain insights into overall differences in costs of living, consider the 2022:Q1 estimates provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research. This C2ER index, which tracks regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services, to evaluate several factors such as housing, groceries, transportation, utilities, and health care, is a useful point of discussion.  With the national average index set to 100.0, the most expensive state to live in is Hawaii with an index of 188.3 or the cost of living is 88.3% higher than the national average.  This is followed by New York (148.3), California (146.1) and Alaska (126.1).  The lowest cost of living state is Mississippi (83.9) which is 16.1% below the national average followed by Iowa (88.9) and Oklahoma (89.4).  Wisconsin ranks 30th at 96.8 (3.2% below the national average), which is higher than Illinois (92.2), but below Michigan (97.3) and Minnesota (98.2). 

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