If you live in Rappahannock County, the $100 bill in your pocket isn’t as valuable as it appears.
According to the Washington-based Tax Foundation, which studied data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the actual value of $100 in Rappahannock County is $83.96.
So undervalued is a $100 bill here that out of the nation’s 3,142 counties and county-equivalents, Rappahannock is among some 40 counties in the entire nation where one finds the least purchasing power.
Places like Rappahannock where $100 is the most undervalued are concentrated around two large cities in the Northeast — Washington and New York — and surrounding San Francisco, according to the foundation.
But simply drive a few miles south out of Rappahannock into Madison County and $100 is worth up to $115.
The real value of a $100 bill is the lowest in Honolulu ($80.32), followed by New York City ($82.03), San Francisco ($82.03), Rappahannock and several counties to our north and east surrounding Washington ($83.96), Los Angeles ($85.03), Boston ($90.66), and Seattle ($91.41).
As for getting the most bang for your buck . . . er, $100?
Actually, you don’t have to travel far to find the highest purchasing power in the entire United States — Beckley, W.V., where the real value of $100 is $125.47. However, the majority of large cities in the United States have a healthier dollar than rural Rappahannock County.
“[S]ome large cities do have relatively high purchasing power,” the Tax Foundation finds. “Cincinnati ($112.11), St. Louis ($110.38), and Charlotte ($106.95) are home to major companies, including Procter & Gamble (Ohio), Anheuser-Busch (Missouri), and Bank of America (North Carolina), and have metropolitan populations exceeding 1 million residents.”
Closer to home, besides Madison, $100 is worth up to $105 in Richmond and Charlottesville and their surrounding counties.
And where in the United States is $100 worth precisely $100?
That would be Dallas, Salt Lake City, and Naples, Fla.
“We are interested in this issue because it has important implications for economic policy; some areas are effectively richer or poorer than their nominal incomes suggest,” the Tax Foundation concludes of the study. “Many policies are based on income, like progressive taxes and means-tested federal benefits. If real incomes vary from place to place due to purchasing power, this matters for those policies.”