Want a Raise? These Cities Pay More

Author: Alecia Pirulis  

Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California

Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know the way to San Jose? If you don’t, you might want to find it. This California city had the largest wage increase last year, with employees earning $2,030 more than they did in 2010, according to a report in The Atlantic Cities. And although 94 percent of the country saw wage increases, some places are doing better than others.

If you’re looking for a major metro area that pays well, San Jose (and the rest of Silicon Valley, for that matter) may be the ideal location for you. San Jose is located south of San Francisco with its northern border extending toward San Francisco Bay. Amazing weather, fantastic Pacific Ocean beaches, and gorgeous state parks and wilderness areas make this a great location even without the bonus of a higher salary – but the city claims that honor, as well. The average salary in San Jose is $69,880 – up from $67,850 in 2010.

Several other California cities are named on the list, including San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. San Jose was the only city to make both lists – large metros with the biggest annual pay increase and the list of overall metros with the biggest annual pay increase. For major metros, Seattle came in second behind San Jose, with Oakland, San Francisco, and Phoenix rounding out the top five.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But major cities are expensive!” True, large cities tend to have a higher cost of living. A dollar stretches more in a smaller city, and several of those smaller metros made the overall list. If you want the best small city for your buck – a city with a total income increase of $2,700 last year – dig out your parka and snow shoes and head on up to Fairbanks, Alaska. Last year, the average salary was $53,050. And while somewhat chilly, the landscape is stunning – soaring mountain peaks, incredible wildlife, and the impressive six-million-acre paradise: Denali National Park.

For those who prefer the Midwest, Bloomington, Indiana came in second while Iowa City and Dubuque, Iowa took the third and fourth spots. East Coast fans don’t despair – Williamsport, Pennsylvania and Lawrence, Massachusetts made the list of overall metros while New York City and Washington DC made the major metros list.

And while average income levels may not be the deciding factor on where you choose to live, knowing the cost of living and average income for your field will definitely help you plan your budget and find the job and location you want. Finally, if you are planning to relocate to another state, be prepared for a challenge – finding a job out-of-state can be a difficult process, but a rewarding one, as well.