The cost of living varies considerably across the nation’s metro areas. These differences are driven largely by the prices of housing, food, and transportation. For many workers in many of these metro areas, local wages reflect local differences in the cost of living, but this is less likely to be true for lower-skilled workers. This article explores the variation in the cost of living across metro areas and the implications of this variation for low-income residents. It also explores factors that deter low-income residents from migrating away from high-cost-of-living areas, and public policies that might alleviate the hardships experienced by these residents.

This article appeared in the Second Quarter 2022 issue of Economic Insights. Download and read the full issue.