Where the Highest-Paying Jobs Are

Ever wonder where the highest-paying jobs in your field are? Now, courtesy of the Bureau of  Labor Statistics (BLS), we have some answers.

Late last week, the BLS released a report (via Catherine Rampell of The New York Times Economix) showing the U.S. metros with the highest-paying jobs in nine major occupational categories including: business, finance, and management; professional and technical work; service; office work; construction; and blue-collar production jobs, among others. The BLS measures what it calls "average pay relative" which includes wages, salaries, commissions, and bonuses. And, its calculations control for differences in the composition of jobs, industry, firm-level, and occupational characteristics, and the fact that data are collected at different times during the year. As the BLS defines it: "The average pay relative for all occupations and each occupational group equals 100." A figure above 100 reflects the percentage above the national norm, while values below 100 reflect the percentage below that norm.

The chart below shows the pay profile for a series of U.S. metro regions. San Francisco is highest, followed by Greater New York, Salinas, California, and Greater Boston, which are all above the U.S. norm.


The second chart below shows the two highest-paying metros for each of the nine major occupational groupings in the BLS analysis. The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the two top-paying metros in six categories. Salinas, California, numbers among the top two in four job categories. Greater New York ranks in three. Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Sacramento, and Providence each have one.


The upshot of all of this is that America is splitting into two distinct kinds of regional economies - a small set of affluent regions with relatively large concentrations of well-paying occupations, and a much larger set of less-advantaged regions with less-skilled, more poorly paying ones. In this kind of world, the ability to achieve the American Dream of economic opportunity and upward socioeconomic mobility increasingly turns on where you live.

This overlays the nation's worsening income inequality with a glaring geographic dimension. America is becoming increasingly sorted not just by culture and attitudes, political party, or favorite candidate, but by powerful economic  forces - human capital level, skill, type of work, and, ultimately, pay and income. Given this underlying economic geography of work, money, and class, it's little surprise that America's politics continues along its current polarized and rancorous path.

Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

From This Author

Just In