Regional, State of the Labor Market

US Cities Where Salaries Go Furthest: 2018

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Money isn't everything. Local markets with the highest adjusted salaries tend to have higher unemployment and weaker future job prospects.

That tempting big salary might not be all it seems. That’s because places where pay is high tend to be more expensive. Jobs offer a premium in the Bay Area, Boston, Washington and New York. But those extra dollars go right back out to pay for higher rents and pricier meals. Adjusted for living costs, salaries are highest not in the big coastal metros, but in less attention-getting locales like Brownsville, TX, Kingsport, TN, and Huntington, WV.

But before you reserve that one-way U-Haul to take you to Kingsport, know this: places where adjusted salaries are higher often serve up other challenges. They tend to have higher unemployment today and are projected to have slower job growth. If you want it all — high adjusted salaries, low unemployment today and good future prospects — look instead at Duluth, MN, Wilmington, NC, and Lubbock, TX.

And let’s be realistic. You might not want to trek across the country, far from family, friends or weather you love, to a place where jobs in your field are scarce. That’s fine. You can probably move somewhere not too far away with a similar mix of jobs and boost your standard of living at the same time — for example, by relocating from Tampa to Birmingham or from San Diego to Sacramento. Most places have relatively close-by sister cities where adjusted salaries are at least a bit higher.

Where adjusted salaries are highest

Before adjusting for cost of living, America’s highest salaries are in metro San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. To see this, we calculated the average salary for all Indeed job postings between July 2017 and June 2018 that included information on annual salaries, accounting for differences in the local job mix. For the same occupations, salaries are on average 19% higher in San Francisco than in San Antonio and 18% higher in Boston than in Cleveland.

But San Antonio and Cleveland are cheaper than San Francisco and Boston. Housing costs less, as do other goods and services. Adjusted for living costs, salaries are actually 11% higher in San Antonio than in San Francisco and 5% higher in Cleveland than in Boston.

Among the 185 US metropolitan areas with at least 250,000 people, salaries adjusted for living costs are highest in Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA, and Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH. Of the top 10, only Birmingham-Hoover has more than a million people. Larger metros have higher unadjusted salaries, but much higher living costs than smaller metros. As a result, adjusted salaries tend to be higher in smaller metros.The million-plus metros with the highest adjusted salaries are Birmingham-Hoover, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Memphis and San Antonio.

Metros with highest adjusted salaries

Annual salaries in job postings (Indeed), adjusted by cost of living (BEA)
MetroAdjusted salary, $Unadjusted salary, $
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 80,880 67,778
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA 80,061 68,132
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 79,028 67,964
Merced, CA 78,983 74,323
Spartanburg, SC 78,121 68,512
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC 76,833 66,614
Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS 76,386 68,136
Toledo, OH 76,375 67,745
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 76,142 67,614
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI 75,942 67,361
Duluth, MN-WI 75,910 68,547
Lynchburg, VA 75,871 68,132
Fayetteville, NC 75,786 68,132
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX 75,712 67,989
Montgomery, AL 75,670 67,422
Rockford, IL 75,476 67,853
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC 74,977 66,205
El Paso, TX 74,462 66,048
Wichita, KS 74,375 67,086
Green Bay, WI 74,363 67,745
Fort Smith, AR-OK 74,357 62,906
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 74,035 66,335
Flint, MI 73,878 66,786
Mobile, AL 73,817 64,516
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA 73,816 68,132
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 73,675 62,256
Killeen-Temple, TX 73,604 67,421
Jackson, MS 73,566 66,283
Modesto, CA 73,469 71,853
Corpus Christi, TX 73,327 68,487
Binghamton, NY 73,218 70,217
Amarillo, TX 73,107 67,989
Dayton, OH 73,020 65,718
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC 72,974 65,385
Salisbury, MD-DE 72,859 65,063
Lexington-Fayette, KY 72,786 66,453
Bakersfield, CA 72,775 70,374
Erie, PA 72,731 67,421
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 72,689 65,347
Winston-Salem, NC 72,650 64,659
Cedar Rapids, IA 72,611 64,841
Visalia-Porterville, CA 72,580 68,516
Knoxville, TN 72,537 64,195
Huntsville, AL 72,530 64,841
Wilmington, NC 72,392 67,614
Roanoke, VA 72,344 65,326
Lubbock, TX 72,340 67,421
Columbia, SC 72,259 66,333
Cleveland-Elyria, OH 72,176 65,103
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 72,175 65,679
Akron, OH 72,046 64,841
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 72,022 67,989
Clarksville, TN-KY 71,944 65,037
Fort Wayne, IN 71,922 64,658
Lansing-East Lansing, MI 71,753 66,731
Utica-Rome, NY 71,721 67,202
St. Louis, MO-IL 71,681 65,086
Fresno, CA 71,654 69,003
Springfield, MO 71,647 62,906
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA 71,553 72,984
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 71,437 66,293
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA 71,288 67,866
Ocala, FL 71,231 64,250
Reading, PA 71,222 68,516
Salinas, CA 71,183 76,949
Greensboro-High Point, NC 70,972 63,733
Lafayette, LA 70,958 62,940
Tulsa, OK 70,908 64,313
Laredo, TX 70,906 63,177
Chattanooga, TN-GA 70,902 63,316
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 70,786 64,061
Columbus, GA-AL 70,747 63,177
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 70,724 67,612
Evansville, IN-KY 70,668 63,177
Albuquerque, NM 70,601 67,989
Salem, OR 70,589 67,695
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 70,589 63,177
Peoria, IL 70,504 64,018
Springfield, MA 70,415 68,584
Baton Rouge, LA 70,263 65,345
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 70,243 64,061
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 70,233 61,454
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 70,200 67,322
Kennewick-Richland, WA 70,171 68,136
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 70,095 66,731
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 70,041 63,177
Gainesville, FL 69,993 66,004
Columbus, OH 69,960 65,063
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 69,895 65,352
Asheville, NC 69,803 64,637
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 69,640 68,108
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 69,621 67,045
Waco, TX 69,521 63,681
Boise City, ID 69,465 65,853
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 69,425 63,177
Canton-Massillon, OH 69,361 61,454
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 69,290 64,717
Oklahoma City, OK 69,240 63,424
Reno, NV 69,222 68,322
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 69,188 65,867
Ogden-Clearfield, UT 69,136 65,748
Stockton-Lodi, CA 69,112 68,836
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 68,923 65,064
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 68,886 76,532
Richmond, VA 68,737 66,056
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 68,718 68,512
Worcester, MA-CT 68,699 71,173
Norwich-New London, CT 68,696 69,383
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 68,695 64,230
Rochester, NY 68,490 67,121
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 68,374 69,400
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 68,264 65,943
Raleigh, NC 68,165 65,371
Portland-South Portland, ME 68,120 69,278
York-Hanover, PA 68,102 65,718
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 68,079 64,947
Savannah, GA 68,022 63,669
Lincoln, NE 68,006 62,906
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL 67,960 62,727
Kansas City, MO-KS 67,663 63,400
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 67,581 64,810
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV 67,408 67,745
Austin-Round Rock, TX 67,361 67,361
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 67,287 67,421
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 67,285 62,508
Lancaster, PA 67,180 66,777
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 67,180 68,322
Manchester-Nashua, NH 66,897 72,584
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 66,804 69,343
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 66,774 84,870
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY 66,772 63,033
Ann Arbor, MI 66,753 67,954
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 66,600 66,866
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 66,580 67,112
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 66,378 67,440
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA 66,296 71,003
Pittsburgh, PA 66,286 62,508
Provo-Orem, UT 66,179 64,061
Salt Lake City, UT 66,145 65,748
Jacksonville, FL 66,118 63,341
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 66,104 67,625
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 66,083 64,167
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 65,982 63,079
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ 65,832 68,136
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 65,796 62,178
Tallahassee, FL 65,726 61,125
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 65,542 64,165
Syracuse, NY 65,421 63,262
Eugene, OR 65,379 63,941
Tucson, AZ 65,249 62,508
Madison, WI 65,236 63,736
Colorado Springs, CO 65,234 64,973
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 65,093 65,679
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 64,873 80,896
Greeley, CO 64,367 63,852
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 64,216 70,959
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 64,190 62,906
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 64,141 67,989
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 64,093 67,874
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA 64,034 68,132
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 63,935 70,008
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 63,910 68,512
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 63,795 68,516
Charleston-North Charleston, SC 63,637 61,219
Port St. Lucie, FL 63,543 61,446
New Haven-Milford, CT 63,417 70,647
Fort Collins, CO 63,233 64,434
Anchorage, AK 63,036 68,836
Trenton, NJ 62,354 69,400
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 62,184 62,060
Boulder, CO 61,851 67,356
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 61,847 72,794
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 61,720 73,509
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 61,628 72,474
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 61,624 74,011
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 61,294 60,681
Olympia-Tumwater, WA 61,251 65,478
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC 61,104 55,666
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 60,830 70,745
Santa Rosa, CA 60,691 73,436
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 60,043 73,252
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 59,412 63,928
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 59,184 69,363
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 58,328 72,794
Urban Honolulu, HI 53,642 66,731

 

Adjusted salaries are lowest in Honolulu, Santa Cruz, CA, Oxnard, CA, Miami and New York. It’s no coincidence that these are all desirable spots for weather, recreation or lifestyle. Many people are willing to give up some income or pay more for housing to live in places with such amenities. In fact, classical urban economics models interpret low adjusted salaries as an indicator of high local quality of life. That’s something to consider before moving someplace where adjusted salaries are high, but amenities are fewer.

Not just money: higher salaries and opportunities today and tomorrow

Even if you’re only considering economic factors when choosing a new hometown, don’t stop at adjusted salaries. Unless you’ve already got a secure job in hand, you should consider the ease of finding a job today and the odds of having one in the future.

Strikingly, places with high adjusted salaries fare poorly both in terms of job prospects today and tomorrow. First, local unemployment rates tend to be higher in metros with higher adjusted salaries. In June 2018, unemployment was more than 8% in Merced and nearly 7% in Brownsville-Harlingen, TX — well above the 4.2% national rate without seasonal adjustment.

Second, projected job growth is lower in metros with higher adjusted salaries. Among the top 10 metros for adjusted salaries, projected job growth based on local occupation mix is particularly low in Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA, Spartanburg, SC, and Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC. Projected job growth is highest in large coastal metros, which tend to be expensive and have lower adjusted salaries.

So let’s take another look at the top metros for adjusted salaries, excluding those that are worse than average for either current unemployment or projected job growth. None of the overall top 10 make the cut. The top 10 metros for adjusted salaries with better-than-average unemployment today and future growth prospects comprise an entirely different list. Duluth, MN-WI, Wilmington, NC, and Lubbock, TX, offer the highest cost-adjusted pay as well as good job opportunities today and tomorrow. Several large metros are also on this list.

 

Higher salaries without too much change

Much as we love top 10 lists, we know that your number one might not be my number one. For instance, St. Louis may have high adjusted salaries, low unemployment and strong future growth, but it has relatively few job postings for economists — and I’m not looking to make a career change. And Duluth might be a tough sell for someone used to mild California winters.

Still, there’s often another local market out there with higher adjusted salaries and a similar job mix that’s not too far away. To flesh that out, we looked for the biggest differences in adjusted salaries for pairs of metros that are less than 500 miles apart and have at least a 75% overlap in their mix of job postings. At the top: Birmingham’s adjusted salaries are 22% higher than Tampa’s, and Sacramento’s are 21% above Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura’s.

Biggest adjusted-salary gaps between pairs of nearby similar metros

Annual salaries by metro ( Indeed )
Higher Adusted Salary of the PairLower adjusted salary of the pairDifference in Adjusted Salaries
Birmingham-Hoover, ALTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL22.4%
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CAOxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA20.9%
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CASan Diego-Carlsbad, CA17.6%
Columbia, SCTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL16.2%
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CALos Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA15.7%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD15.5%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALJacksonville, FL15.2%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHNew York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA14.7%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CTNew York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA13.9%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FLMiami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL13.7%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INMadison, WI13.5%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NVLos Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA12.6%
Fresno, CARiverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA12.3%
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CARiverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA12.2%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GATampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL12.0%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHBridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT11.8%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INPittsburgh, PA11.7%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHWashington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV11.6%
Jacksonville, FLMiami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL11.3%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL11.1%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CTBridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT11.0%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI10.8%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN10.5%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL10.3%
Wichita, KSKansas City, MO-KS9.9%
St. Louis, MO-ILMadison, WI9.9%
Brownsville-Harlingen, TXMcAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX9.8%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN9.7%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD9.5%
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MILouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN9.4%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA9.4%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCBaltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD9.4%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NVRiverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA9.2%
Columbus, OHPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD9.2%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD9.1%
St. Louis, MO-ILDes Moines-West Des Moines, IA8.9%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCOrlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL8.9%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHPittsburgh, PA8.9%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX8.7%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FLTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL8.7%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZSan Diego-Carlsbad, CA8.6%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALNew Orleans-Metairie, LA8.6%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TXHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX8.5%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GAOrlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL8.5%
St. Louis, MO-ILMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI8.4%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIMadison, WI8.4%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MANew Haven-Milford, CT8.4%
Worcester, MA-CTNew Haven-Milford, CT8.3%
Greensboro-High Point, NCVirginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC8.3%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INRochester, NY8.1%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FLMiami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL8.0%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI8.0%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IADenver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO8.0%
Jacksonville, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL7.9%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CTNew Haven-Milford, CT7.8%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CAOxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA7.8%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHBaltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD7.8%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI7.8%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALLittle Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR7.6%
Richmond, VABaltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD7.6%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD7.5%
Wichita, KSOklahoma City, OK7.4%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN7.4%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALChattanooga, TN-GA7.4%
Greensboro-High Point, NCJacksonville, FL7.3%
St. Louis, MO-ILChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI7.3%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALGreensboro-High Point, NC7.3%
Richmond, VAPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD7.2%
Columbus, OHMadison, WI7.2%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD7.2%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FLPort St. Lucie, FL7.1%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TXDallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX7.0%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI7.0%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CTBaltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD7.0%
Reading, PAAllentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ7.0%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TXAustin-Round Rock, TX6.9%
Savannah, GACharleston-North Charleston, SC6.9%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZLos Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA6.8%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MDNew York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA6.7%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIPittsburgh, PA6.7%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CTPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD6.7%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARKansas City, MO-KS6.7%
Raleigh, NCBaltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD6.7%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CASan Diego-Carlsbad, CA6.6%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCVirginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC6.6%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN6.6%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN6.6%
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CAPortland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA6.5%
Raleigh, NCPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD6.4%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA6.3%
Jacksonville, FLTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL6.3%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALSt. Louis, MO-IL6.2%
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL6.2%
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FLTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL6.1%
Toledo, OHAkron, OH6.0%
St. Louis, MO-ILKansas City, MO-KS5.9%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INCharlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC5.9%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIPittsburgh, PA5.9%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SCNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN5.9%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI5.9%
Baton Rouge, LAHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX5.9%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INColumbus, OH5.8%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCJacksonville, FL5.7%
New Orleans-Metairie, LAHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX5.6%
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MIFort Wayne, IN5.6%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INKansas City, MO-KS5.6%
Columbus, OHPittsburgh, PA5.5%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALMemphis, TN-MS-AR5.5%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INDetroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI5.5%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCPittsburgh, PA5.4%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NVPhoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ5.4%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALColumbia, SC5.4%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IADes Moines-West Des Moines, IA5.3%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GAJacksonville, FL5.3%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FLOrlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL5.3%
Columbia, SCRichmond, VA5.1%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SCLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN5.1%
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CASan Diego-Carlsbad, CA5.1%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI5.1%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI5.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CALos Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA4.9%
Wichita, KSTulsa, OK4.9%
Akron, OHGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI4.9%
Richmond, VAVirginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC4.9%
Lexington-Fayette, KYLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN4.8%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IAMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI4.8%
Tulsa, OKKansas City, MO-KS4.8%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL4.7%
Columbus, OHChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI4.7%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN4.7%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN4.7%
Rochester, NYSyracuse, NY4.7%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INMilwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI4.7%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FLMiami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL4.7%
Ocala, FLDeltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL4.6%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WASeattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA4.6%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIKansas City, MO-KS4.5%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CAOxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA4.5%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INChattanooga, TN-GA4.4%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALGreenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC4.3%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INGreensboro-High Point, NC4.3%
Oklahoma City, OKHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX4.3%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TNJacksonville, FL4.2%
Memphis, TN-MS-AROklahoma City, OK4.2%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NYPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD4.2%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TXOklahoma City, OK4.0%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MDBridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT4.0%
St. Louis, MO-ILNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN4.0%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TNPittsburgh, PA4.0%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN4.0%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN4.0%
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MIMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI3.9%
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NYPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD3.9%
Jacksonville, FLCharleston-North Charleston, SC3.9%
Akron, OHCanton-Massillon, OH3.9%
Trenton, NJNew York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA3.8%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FLNaples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL3.8%
Akron, OHLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN3.8%
Kansas City, MO-KSMadison, WI3.7%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, COBoulder, CO3.7%
Port St. Lucie, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL3.7%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA3.7%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAPittsburgh, PA3.7%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN3.6%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN3.6%
Fort Wayne, INLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN3.6%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MDWashington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV3.5%
St. Louis, MO-ILOklahoma City, OK3.5%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CAVallejo-Fairfield, CA3.5%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALJackson, MS3.5%
St. Louis, MO-ILOmaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA3.5%
Pittsburgh, PAPhiladelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD3.4%
Boise City, IDPortland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA3.4%
Columbia, SCCharlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC3.4%
Rochester, NYPittsburgh, PA3.3%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INSt. Louis, MO-IL3.3%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHCharlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC3.3%
Greensboro-High Point, NCRichmond, VA3.3%
St. Louis, MO-ILLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN3.2%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FLTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL3.2%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAAllentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ3.2%
Richmond, VAAlbany-Schenectady-Troy, NY3.2%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TNChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI3.2%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHColumbus, OH3.2%
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FLMiami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL3.2%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CALos Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA3.2%
Salt Lake City, UTDenver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO3.1%
Jacksonville, FLOrlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL3.0%
Akron, OHColumbus, OH3.0%
Greensboro-High Point, NCNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN3.0%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARNew Orleans-Metairie, LA3.0%
St. Louis, MO-ILAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA3.0%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI3.0%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CASan Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA2.9%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SCChattanooga, TN-GA2.9%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MABuffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY2.9%
Oklahoma City, OKDallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX2.9%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN2.9%
Chattanooga, TN-GANashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN2.9%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALCincinnati, OH-KY-IN2.8%
Rochester, NYAlbany-Schenectady-Troy, NY2.8%
Kansas City, MO-KSDes Moines-West Des Moines, IA2.8%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SCGreensboro-High Point, NC2.8%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHDetroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI2.8%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WVNew York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA2.8%
San Diego-Carlsbad, CAOxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA2.8%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INAkron, OH2.8%
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CALas Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV2.7%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAManchester-Nashua, NH2.7%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CTNew York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA2.6%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WINashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN2.6%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA2.6%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-INKansas City, MO-KS2.6%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INMemphis, TN-MS-AR2.6%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INCleveland-Elyria, OH2.6%
Rochester, NYBuffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY2.6%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCRaleigh, NC2.5%
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PAAllentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ2.5%
Springfield, MAWorcester, MA-CT2.5%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIRochester, NY2.5%
Springfield, MAProvidence-Warwick, RI-MA2.5%
St. Louis, MO-ILColumbus, OH2.5%
Tulsa, OKOklahoma City, OK2.4%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IAKansas City, MO-KS2.4%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WIMadison, WI2.4%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CTBuffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY2.4%
Winston-Salem, NCGreensboro-High Point, NC2.4%
Kansas City, MO-KSMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI2.4%
Oklahoma City, OKKansas City, MO-KS2.3%
Knoxville, TNChattanooga, TN-GA2.3%
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AROklahoma City, OK2.2%
Greensboro-High Point, NCLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN2.2%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FLJacksonville, FL2.2%
Lansing-East Lansing, MIDetroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI2.2%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI2.2%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SCIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN2.2%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GARaleigh, NC2.1%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIRichmond, VA2.1%
Chattanooga, TN-GALouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN2.1%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INColumbus, OH2.1%
St. Louis, MO-ILDetroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI2.1%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIOmaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA2.1%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NYSyracuse, NY2.1%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHMilwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI2.1%
Greensboro-High Point, NCAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA1.9%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WILouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN1.9%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TNKansas City, MO-KS1.9%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MINashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN1.9%
Columbus, OHGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI1.8%
Columbia, SCGreensboro-High Point, NC1.8%
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NYSyracuse, NY1.8%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARChattanooga, TN-GA1.8%
Columbus, OHRichmond, VA1.8%
New Orleans-Metairie, LANashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN1.7%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCRichmond, VA1.7%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CASan Diego-Carlsbad, CA1.7%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TXTulsa, OK1.6%
Greensboro-High Point, NCCharlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC1.5%
Columbus, OHNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN1.5%
Durham-Chapel Hill, NCRaleigh, NC1.5%
Austin-Round Rock, TXHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX1.5%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-INGreenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC1.5%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FLNorth Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL1.5%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN1.4%
York-Hanover, PALancaster, PA1.4%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TXHouston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX1.4%
St. Louis, MO-ILMilwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI1.4%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WIMadison, WI1.3%
Kansas City, MO-KSChicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI1.3%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GARichmond, VA1.3%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZTucson, AZ1.3%
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PACanton-Massillon, OH1.3%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FLLakeland-Winter Haven, FL1.2%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MILouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN1.1%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIColumbus, OH1.1%
St. Louis, MO-ILTulsa, OK1.1%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MDNew Haven-Milford, CT1.1%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-INGrand Rapids-Wyoming, MI1.1%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WIMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI1.1%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN1.0%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN1.0%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GANashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN1.0%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INMilwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI1.0%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SCColumbia, SC1.0%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FLCharleston-North Charleston, SC0.9%
Akron, OHIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN0.9%
Richmond, VARaleigh, NC0.8%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WIPittsburgh, PA0.8%
Columbus, OHLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN0.8%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INChattanooga, TN-GA0.8%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHHartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT0.7%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WIDetroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI0.7%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FLCape Coral-Fort Myers, FL0.7%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NYPittsburgh, PA0.7%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-INNashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN0.7%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHSt. Louis, MO-IL0.7%
Memphis, TN-MS-ARSt. Louis, MO-IL0.7%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCLouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN0.7%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAHarrisburg-Carlisle, PA0.7%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, INGreensboro-High Point, NC0.7%
Birmingham-Hoover, ALMontgomery, AL0.6%
Kansas City, MO-KSDallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX0.6%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAHartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT0.5%
Columbus, OHAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA0.5%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SCAtlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA0.4%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MIColumbus, OH0.3%
St. Louis, MO-ILIndianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN0.3%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MDBaltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD0.3%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GALouisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN0.3%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NHProvidence-Warwick, RI-MA0.2%
Baton Rouge, LANew Orleans-Metairie, LA0.2%
Cleveland-Elyria, OHAkron, OH0.2%
Tulsa, OKLittle Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR0.2%
Fresno, CASacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA0.1%
Austin-Round Rock, TXDallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX0.1%
Columbus, OHCharlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC0.1%
Salt Lake City, UTPhoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ0.1%
Provo-Orem, UTSalt Lake City, UT0.1%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MAWorcester, MA-CT0.0%
Worcester, MA-CTProvidence-Warwick, RI-MA0.0%

 

These are moves that get you a higher standard of living and similar job opportunities — all just a short flight or day’s drive away. Those adjusted-salary differences might sound small relative to the gap between extremes: Brownsville’s adjusted salaries are 51% higher than Honolulu’s, and Kingsport’s are 37% higher than those in Santa Cruz. But you’d need to move a long distance to a very different labor market — and hope to find a job that fits you — in order to claim that higher standard of living. All else equal, a higher adjusted salary is better than a lower one. But in job hunting — like so many other things — all else is never equal.


Methodology

Salary data are from all job postings with annual salaries on Indeed between July 2017 and June 2018. Unadjusted average salaries are based on weighted median deviations across occupations, which accounts for the different mix of job titles across metros in order to make an apples-to-apples comparison of unadjusted salaries.

Local cost-of-living data are from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis regional price parities for 2016, released May 2018. These cost-of-living data reflect local differences in the price of housing, other services and physical goods. Unemployment data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are not seasonally adjusted, unlike the published headline rate. Projected job growth is from Indeed’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

All 185 U.S. metropolitan areas with at least 250,000 people are included in the rankings.

Distances between metros are great-circle distances between population-weighted metro centroids, which tend to be a bit shorter than actual driving distances.

Unadjusted and adjusted salary data in this blogpost should not be compared with salary data from last year’s blogpost on this topic. The occupational composition of job postings with annual salaries changes over time. Our methodology adjusts for differences in occupational composition across metros at a point in time, but not for differences in occupational composition over time.

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