Southerners spend more of their income on commuting

We Southerners spend a larger percentage of our income getting to and from work than other regions of the United States, largely because of the length of our commutes, according to one survey.

The annual cost of commuting varies from $6,427 in the South to $6,815 in the Northeast according to Clever, a service that connects homebuyers and sellers to real estate agents. But while that appears to be less expensive, a breakdown of the total cost shows that Southerners actually spend more out of pocket than other regions for fuel and maintenance.

Because Southern drivers earn less than other regions and tend to have longer commutes, fuel and vehicle maintenance costs account for a larger proportion of their income, according to Clever, which pulled data from the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Transportation and the Gas Buddy Price Map to look at time spent commuting, number of commuters, mean incomes, hourly wages and distance traveled to work to determine costs.

The length of our commute factors in to Southerners’ more expensive drive to and from work. Southern commuters average 6,548 miles each year, as opposed to Western drivers, who commute an average of 5,405 miles per year, so we end up spending more for getting to and from work.

Here’s how the South compared to other regions in the percentage of income allocated toward maintenance and fuel costs:

South – 2.31 percent

West – 2.07 percent

Midwest – 2.01 percent

Northeast – 1.80 percent

It might surprise you that West Coast commuters come in at a lower percentage than the South, given that gas prices there tend to hover around $4 per gallon, but their earnings are higher than the other regions.

This week, gas prices are averaging slightly more than $4 per gallon in California and over $3 in other western states, according to The AAA Gas Prices website. Tennessee gas prices are averaging $2.71 this week with other Southern states hovering closely around that number, according to AAA.

And commuting will cut a little deeper into our income as gas prices traditionally increase leading up to the Memorial Day weekend.