Image via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Most Washingtonians would agree – living in the nation’s capital is pretty sweet. From an abundance of free museums, to the growing restaurant scene, and just the shear cleanliness and walkability of our city, life in the District is good. But recent data from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals a dirty little secret about living in Washington. Here, it seems, your paycheck is worthless.

Based on price index adjustments, the Bureau was able to determine how much the average salaries were for cities across America based on the cost of living in those cities. While Washington D.C. has the highest average salary at $44,452 a year, when the high costs of living in the District is taken into account Washingtonians feel like they are making a meager $35,029. According to the data, even if you were making much lower average salaries in Rochester, Minnesota or Danville, Illinois, you would feel much richer than you do in Washington.

To make matters worse, this disparity between actual and perceived income is higher in Washington than anywhere else in the country. Prices in D.C. are also higher than the national average by 18 percent, again the highest in the country. Which is pretty insane especially when you consider Washington has had the lowest level of pay growth, at only 0.4 percent.

So next time you’re walking around the National Mall thinking how lucky you are to live in such a stunning city remember – you are paying a high price tag for that iconic skyline.