How Much of a Driver’s Monthly Income is Spent on Gas? [State-by-State Study]

Using recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Census Bureau, and other sources, FinanceBuzz found how much of the average U.S. driver’s monthly income is spent on gas.
Last updated Aug. 25, 2022 | By Ben Walker, CEPF | Edited By Melinda Sineriz
Putting gas into a car

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New commuting habits and gas tax holidays look to ease the burden of rising gas prices across the country. But many Americans have to rely on their vehicle as their primary mode of transportation, and planning for summer road trip expenses is looking bleak.

By finding how much of their monthly income the average U.S. driver spends on gas, we were able to see which areas nationwide have the largest fuel burdens and which offer the best value. FinanceBuzz also found the states where drivers pay the highest and lowest percentage of their monthly income into their gas tank.

In this article

Key findings

  • The average U.S. driver spends 2.57% of their monthly income on their gas tank.
  • 6 of the 10 states that spend the highest percentage of their monthly income on gas are in the South. Alabama and Mississippi residents pay the most, though Wyoming residents follow closely behind.
  • Drivers in Washington, D.C., New York, and Alaska pay the lowest percentage of their monthly income into their gas tanks. Drivers in Washington, D.C. spend just 1.00% of their income on gas.

10 states where drivers spend the highest percentage of their income on gas

Map showing the states where drivers spend the highest percentage of income on gas


Ranking State % of monthly income drivers spend on gas
1 Alabama 6.40%
2 Mississippi 5.66%
3 Wyoming 5.48%
4 North Carolina 5.14%
5 Arkansas 5.12%
6 New Mexico 5.05%
7 Florida 5.01%
8 South Carolina 4.82%
9 Delaware 4.81%
10 Indiana 4.67%

The Southern region of the U.S. accounts for 6 of the top 10 states where drivers spend the highest percentage of their income on gas. These states are Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina.

Overall, Alabama drivers pay the most while drivers in neighboring Mississippi are second. The average Alabama resident travels 1,096 miles per month while the average Mississippian travels 1,073 miles monthly. Those totals are the second- and third-most in the country, trailing only Wyoming (1,227 miles per month).

It’s worth noting that Alabama also has one of the ten lowest monthly incomes ($3,652). Mississippi ($3,354), Arkansas ($3,421), and New Mexico ($3,519) residents have the three lowest monthly incomes in the U.S.

9 states and 1 district where drivers spend the lowest percentage of their income on gas

Map showing the states where drivers spend the lowest percentage of income on gas


Ranking State % of monthly income drivers spend on gas
1 District of Columbia 1.00%
2 New York 1.59%
3 Alaska 2.06%
4 Rhode Island 2.14%
5 New Jersey 2.28%
6 Massachusetts 2.34%
7 Washington 2.36%
8 Illinois 2.45%
9 Connecticut 2.50%
10 Pennsylvania 2.53%

Overall, the average U.S. driver spends 2.57% of their monthly income on their gas tank. Drivers in these 10 states are all below this national average.

Drivers in Washington, D.C. and New York put the lowest percentage of their monthly income toward gas, and are the only places where drivers spend less than 2% of their monthly income at the pump. Drivers in Washington, D.C. spend just 1.00% of their income on gas. To put this in perspective, Alabama drivers spend six times more of their monthly income on gas than drivers in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. and New York drivers travel some of the fewest miles per month on average. The average miles traveled per person, per month in D.C. is 335, while New York is 400 miles. Robust public transportation options could contribute to those low highway mile totals.

Percentage of monthly income the average person spends on gas in every state and the District of Columbia

Map showing the percentage of income that drivers in every state spend on gas


State % of income drivers spend on gas Median monthly income Gas cost per gallon Average miles traveled per person per month
Alabama 6.40% $3,652 $4.89 1,096
Alaska 2.06% $4,673 $4.20 524
Arizona 3.66% $3,849 $4.05 795
Arkansas 5.12% $3,421 $4.76 842
California 3.72% $4,510 $5.98 643
Colorado 2.69% $4,440 $4.12 665
Connecticut 2.50% $5,197 $4.54 656
Delaware 4.81% $4,316 $4.84 982
District of Columbia 1.00% $6,529 $4.45 335
Florida 5.01% $3,537 $4.50 902
Georgia 4.21% $3,868 $4.00 932
Hawaii 3.25% $4,198 $5.32 588
Idaho 3.66% $3,623 $4.12 738
Illinois 2.45% $4,425 $4.52 549
Indiana 4.67% $3,846 $4.83 851
Iowa 3.39% $3,991 $4.42 701
Kansas 3.13% $3,876 $3.99 696
Kentucky 4.06% $3,653 $4.24 801
Louisiana 4.31% $3,750 $4.14 894
Maine 3.67% $3,940 $4.60 720
Maryland 2.62% $5,145 $4.47 690
Massachusetts 2.34% $5,381 $4.58 628
Michigan 3.02% $4,161 $4.39 656
Minnesota 2.56% $4,506 $4.10 644
Mississippi 5.66% $3,354 $4.05 1,073
Missouri 3.87% $3,778 $4.08 821
Montana 4.11% $3,659 $4.28 805
Nebraska 3.54% $3,930 $4.25 750
Nevada 3.32% $3,707 $4.11 684
New Hampshire 2.64% $4,591 $4.09 678
New Jersey 2.28% $5,197 $4.53 599
New Mexico 5.05% $3,519 $4.62 881
New York 1.59% $4,709 $4.29 400
North Carolina 5.14% $3,707 $5.18 842
North Dakota 3.78% $4,161 $4.76 757
Ohio 3.17% $4,032 $4.29 682
Oklahoma 3.74% $3,536 $4.00 757
Oregon 3.09% $4,225 $5.00 599
Pennsylvania 2.53% $4,279 $4.63 535
Rhode Island 2.14% $4,490 $4.57 481
South Carolina 4.82% $3,581 $4.20 942
South Dakota 3.93% $3,665 $4.14 796
Tennessee 4.36% $3,620 $4.21 859
Texas 3.39% $3,950 $4.15 739
Utah 3.80% $4,141 $4.47 804
Vermont 3.76% $4,136 $4.32 824
Virginia 3.24% $4,547 $4.58 736
Washington 2.36% $4,870 $5.03 522
West Virginia 3.47% $3,535 $4.23 664
Wisconsin 3.27% $4,117 $4.29 720
Wyoming 5.48% $4,151 $4.25 1,227
Nationwide Average: 2.57% $5,416 $4.48 711

Wyoming, Mississippi, and Alabama are the only states with over 1,000 miles traveled per person, per month. The average miles traveled per person, per month in the U.S. is 711 miles. Regardless of the specific state, people are driving significant miles, and gas costs are a nationwide issue.

In an effort to reduce gas prices, some states have implemented “gas tax holidays,” which typically involve suspending taxes on gas across the state for a certain period. Maryland, Georgia, and Connecticut were the first states to suspend fuel taxes, but other states are also considering taking action.

For context, Maryland suspended a whopping 36.1-cents-per-gallon tax, which could offer considerable savings for drivers.

Tips to help you save money as a driver

Plans for gas rebates or stimulus programs to help address soaring costs are underway on both the federal and state levels. California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have approved or have pending plans for rebate or stimulus payments.

But whether you receive a gas rebate or stimulus check, here are several ways to save money as a driver:

  • Save on car insurance: To save money on car insurance, do your research and shop around. You could find a deal if you consider the best car insurance companies.
  • Utilize credit cards: Many credit cards offer valuable rewards on your purchases, including at gas stations. Reward yourself when you fill up your tank when you use the best gas credit cards.
  • Use helpful apps: Certain apps, including GasBuddy, could help you save money on gas or in other ways. Check out these budgeting apps to help you save some cash.

Methodology

Financebuzz used the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (February 2022) to find the total number of road miles traveled by all people in each state. We then divided that number by each state's population, using the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau to find the average number of vehicle miles traveled per person in a month by state. We used AAA data collected on 5/16/22 to find the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline in each state. We used the most recent data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (2020) to determine the average fuel efficiency of all light-duty vehicles (i.e. passenger vehicles such as cars, trucks, and SUVs).

We found the median annual income for full-time, year-round workers in every state using the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, then divided that by 12 to find the median monthly income. Each state's average vehicle miles traveled was then divided by the average fuel economy for light-duty vehicles (22.9 mpg) to determine the number of gallons of gasoline needed to travel that distance. That number was then multiplied by the average cost for a gallon of gas to determine how much the average person spends per month to travel the average number of vehicle miles traveled in each state for both cars and trucks. The average monthly cost for gas in each state was then divided by the median monthly income per state to determine the percentage of income that people spend on gas in each state.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF Ben Walker, CEPF, is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially sound decisions. For over a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben is a Certified Educator of Personal Finance and has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.