Your pay depends on where you live in USA

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Comparisons of pay between metropolitan areas

This should come as a no surprise – your earnings from a job or occupation can vary significantly, even within the same country. Based on a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, your pay depends on where you live and work in America.

The variations are quite noticeable from city to city. For example, the average pay for a civilian workers in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA metropolitan area was 20 percent above the national average in 2009.

This National Compensation Survey (NCS) study includes 77 different metropolitan areas. The chart below is a pictorial view of the pay relation for some of the cities across USA. In this survey, the term ‘pay’ includes all the wages, salaries, commissions, and production bonuses.


The chart shows the four highest and three lowest paying metropolitan areas among those studied by the NCS.

A pay relative value is a calculation of pay (wages, salaries, commissions, and production bonuses) for a given metropolitan area relative to the nation as a whole. The Brownsville-Harlingen, TX metropolitan area had a pay relative of 79, meaning workers earned an average of 79 cents for every dollar earned by workers nationwide.

Using data from the NCS, the pay relatives —a means of assessing pay differences—are available for each of the nine major occupational groups within surveyed metropolitan areas, as well as averaged across all occupations for each area. The average pay relative nationally for all occupations and for each occupational group equals 100 – a reference for comparison.

For details on these comparative numbers for different cities, take a look at the complete news release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, linked below as the ‘source’.

One commonsense caveat and a word of caution though, that we should always keep in mind. There is no guarantee that you will always find a job with higher salary in the cities with higher relative pay. The chance of finding a similar job (similar to your current occupation) in higher scale cities depends on so many factors – job openings, qualifications, demand for the occupation Etc. Also, absolute pay range could be misleading. For example, even if you find a higher paying job in another city, the cost of living could be equally higher, resulting in no net gain in the end. So, while this data is helpful on paper, there are so many other factors that need to be considered while deciding on a move from one place to another.

So, it is always prudent to have a job offer in hand before giving up on your current job, regardless of the location. Also, the move from one city to other may come with its own social and financial price. This survey, as a result, is just an informative aspect to consider. By itself, it is not a sole or a key factor in career and occupation related decisions or moves.

Source:
BLS: Comparisons of pay between metropolitan areas in 2009

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