Bad news for some high-earning workers in some of America’s biggest cities – your six-figure salary may not stretch as fiscally far as you think, according to a new report.

A recent analysis from SmartAsset has revealed what a $100,000 salary is actually worth in the largest U.S. cities. While a six-figure salary mark has culturally been seen as a sign of financial comfort and success, data showed that take-home pay totaled less than $40,000 in New York City, Honolulu and San Francisco, respectively.

Other Democrat-led cities clinched the top places where your paycheck doesn’t go as far, including Washington, D.C., Long Beach and Los Angeles – which tied for fifth at a take-home pay of $44,263 – San Diego, Oakland, and Boston, all raking in less than $49,000 for high earners.

SmartAsset calculated the data by comparing the after-tax income, average cost of living per densely-populated city and impact of inflation.


Laffer Tengler Investments CEO and CIO Nancy Tengler recently moved from California to Arizona, and argued residents who make $100,000 or above flee these blue cities for one reason: it’s “all about the taxes.”

Man holds empty wallet open

Workers making $100,000 annually receive the least amount of take-home pay in cities like New York, Honolulu and San Francisco because it’s “all about the taxes,” Laffer Tengler Investments CEO and CIO Nancy Tengler said on “Mornings with Maria.” (Getty Images)

“It trickles through to everything,” Tengler said on “Mornings with Maria” Friday. “We’re seeing a big influx of people moving from California to Arizona. And then I spend the other half of the year in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe, which is in Nevada, and we’re seeing the same – Californians fleeing the Golden State.”

“It’s really noteworthy,” she continued, “and I think policymakers should stand up and take notice because you’re experiencing the same thing here, obviously, in New York.”

In 2022, California and New York suffered some of the biggest resident losses, with California seeing its population tumble by more than 343,000 people, and New York had the overall largest decline in its population with a 0.9% drop. These states are also known to have some of the highest tax burdens in the country.

“I see it every day,” maslansky+partners’ Lee Carter added to the conversation Friday. “More than half your money in New York City is going to taxes by the time you pay for city taxes and all the rest of it, so it’s really staggering. It’s really bad policy.”

On the reverse side of SmartAssest’s report, it was determined that a $100,000 salary in Memphis, Tennessee, earns the most take-home pay with $86,444. Texas cities also dominated the top 10 cities your money goes farthest, including El Paso, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Houston and San Antonio.


Top 10 cities where $100K salary is worth the least:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Honolulu, HI
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Washington, DC
  5. Long Beach, CA (Tie)
  6. Los Angeles, CA (Tie)
  7. San Diego, CA
  8. Oakland, CA
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Seattle, WA

Top 10 cities where $100K goes the farthest:

  1. Memphis, TN
  2. El Paso, TX
  3. Oklahoma City, OK
  4. Corpus Christi, TX
  5. Lubbock, TX
  6. Houston, TX
  7. San Antonio, TX (Tie)
  8. Fort Worth, TX (Tie)
  9. Arlington, TX (Tie)
  10. St. Louis, MO


FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.