Among the nation's 15 largest metros, Detroit, Atlanta, and Dallas offer the best bang for the average salary, according to Indeed’s analysis. San Francisco ranks fourth, and is the highest ranked large coastal metro. Miami and New York rank last, with Miami's average salary 15% behind that of Detroit.
"Salary is a top priority for job seekers. But the same salary will go a lot further in an affordable city than in a pricey one," says Jed Kolko, Indeed Chief Economist and head of the job site’s Hiring Lab. "Job seekers face a dilemma: big salaries and high prices often go hand-in-hand. It turns out that the places where average salaries go furthest aren't the places where you'll see the most on your paystub."
For big city dwellers our top 15 list shows that the best salary options are to either look inland, or be a high paid worker on the coasts. These include metro areas with 3.4 million people and up.
But for those looking beyond just large cities, the research shows that adjusted salaries tend to be higher in smaller metros, and reveal some stark regional differences.
“Once we adjust for living costs, the big coastal metros no longer look like a good deal,” Kolko says. “Instead, the highest adjusted salaries in the country are in Birmingham, AL, Jackson, MS, and Fresno, CA. No big coastal metros are among the top 20, but plenty of smaller metros in the South and Midwest are. The only California metros among the top 20 are inland, in Fresno, Bakersfield, and Modesto, where housing is much cheaper than on the coast.”
Meanwhile, cities that are the hardest to stretch a dollar also happen to be sunny locations, with Honolulu, Tucson, and Miami at the bottom of the list.
We hope these lists are interesting to consider when looking at how far your salary can stretch, but Kolko cautions that many factors go into decisions around work and location.
“Should job-seekers write off metros where salaries don't keep up with the cost of living? Not necessarily,” he says. “A low average adjusted salary might signal that a city is special for reasons other than money. Plus, places that look like a worse deal today might offer greater job security in the future.”
Indeed’s cities where pay goes the furthest was drawn from annual salary data from all job postings with salary information on Indeed between August 2016 and July 2017, and all 104 U.S. metropolitan areas with at least 500,000 people. The 15 largest cities were for populations of 3.4 million and up. You can read the full report here: http://www.hiringlab.org/2017/08/24/salaries-go-furthest-in-us-cities/.
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