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Figuring Your Miles Per Hour Worked (MPHW)

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

Aug 21, 2014 8:55:00 AM

How many miles can you drive for the dollars earned in an hour of work? Ed Dolan knows how to calculate what he calls MPHW and writes about how to figure it out in the blog economonitor.

Dolan writes, “To calculate the miles that you could drive per hour worked (MPHW), just divide your wage by the price you pay for gasoline and multiply by your car’s fuel efficiency in miles per gallon.”

MPHW wasn't that great when the car was first introduced. Fuel prices were low, but mileage rates were low, too. Above is Dolan's chart.

The cars he used for those early car days ranged from 15- to 17-miles per gallon. He calculates that the typical worker could drive 34 miles for each hour worked in the Model T era. By 1935, even in the heart of the Depression, Dolan figures “MPHW edged up to about 50.” By the 1950’s it was 100 MPHW. He writes that MPHS peaked in 1999 at 271, “when gasoline cost a modest $1.13 per gallon, the average car on the road got 22.9 MPG, and the average production worker earned $13.49 per hour.”

Since then, Dolan’s MPHW has fallen by 35 percent to somewhere around 176 miles.

Dolan does write that it is not all bad, “For example, the popular Toyota Prius, rated at 50 MPG (and many owners will tell you they do better than that) yields 285 MPHW at the average wage for production workers, beating even the 1999 average." 

So what is your MPHW?

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