[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

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

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,204.97 -211.61 -1.29%
Nasdaq 4,363.14 -146.41 -3.25%
S&P 500 1,880.05 -35.40 -1.85%
Treasuries 1.85 -0.02 -0.86%
Data as of 4:52pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 12.95 -0.30 -2.26%
Facebook Inc 104.07 -6.42 -5.81%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 5.68 -0.04 -0.70%
Microsoft Corp 50.16 -1.84 -3.54%
General Electric Co 28.54 -0.64 -2.19%
Data as of Feb 5
Sponsors

Sections

Anheuser-Busch has been the exclusive beer advertiser featured during the Super Bowl since 1975, and it's spent more on Super Bowl advertising than any other company for the last five years in a row. More

The economy is better than it was, but not even President Obama is ready to declare it's booming. More

Laurie Segall sits down with Foursquare's new CEO Jeff Glueck to discuss the company's latest round of funding at a lower valuation, and their hybrid consumer/enterprise business model. More

Nonprofit JumpStart has launched a new $10M fund that will only invest in women and minority-led startups. The catch: You have to move to Ohio. More

Portland, Oregon, is often described as the last affordable cool city on the West Coast. But as more people move to the city, it's becoming increasingly unaffordable. More