The Cities With The Highest Income Adjusted For Cost of Living
When we think of places with high salaries, big metro areas like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco are usually the first to spring to mind. Or cities with the biggest concentrations of educated workers, such as Boston.
But wages are just one part of the equation — high prices in those East and West Coast cities mean the fat paychecks aren’t necessarily getting the locals ahead. When cost of living is factored in, most of the places that boast the highest effective pay turn out to be in the less celebrated and less expensive middle part of the country. My colleague Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group and I looked at the average annual wages in the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas and adjusted incomes by the cost of living. The results were surprising and revealing.
One major surprise is the metro area in third place: Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. This can be explained by the relatively high wages paid in the resurgent auto industry and, as we have reported earlier, a huge surge in well-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math-related) jobs. Combine this with some of the most affordable housing in the nation and sizable reductions in unemployment — down 5% in Michigan over the past two years, the largest such drop in the nation. This longtime sad sack region has reason to feel hopeful.
2011 Adjusted Annual Wage: $57,016
Average Annual Wage: $53,424
Unadjusted Rank: 17
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