Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Salary Growth

Current Recession is a little kinder to many degree holders, new data from online salary data base shows. For some cities, people with a degree had shown median growth of up to 15% since 2007.

Across the United State of America, wages for degree holder rose for an average of 3% for the past 3 years, PayScale shown.

National unemployment rate for college graduates also stayed much lower than the national average. (4.7% for last May compared to 9.7 for the whole country) The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, while a high of 15% for those who has a high school diploma to show.

PayScale analysis of the 100 largest market areas in the country revealed the best and worst cities for salary growth for people with a degree. The list includes the current median annual salary for college graduates in each area, as well as the salary growth percentage for those people over the past 3 years.

Best Markets Salary Growth.

a) Honolulu, Hawaii ($55,000 + 15%)

Hawaii’s median wage rate for college graduates is much lower compare to the national average ($55,000), “So most of the employers are trying to catch up”.  Director of quantitative analysis of PayScale Al Lee stated. Honolulu host major military facilities and two universities, which employs, more than 23,000 strong individual combine. “Colleges and Universities provide stable pay and guaranteed employment”.

b) Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pa.-N.J.  ($58,700, +15%)

Do you still have a copy of Billy Joel song in your head about the rust-belt hard times in Allentown? Well you can forget it. At present, the region is a bustling center for Health care services, one of the few industries that withstand and continue to grow despite the economic downturn.

c) El Paso Texas ($49,000+ 14%)

National defense is huge issue at El Paso Texas, and you can describe it in two words, Border Patrol. A health care product is huge here. The Area’s lower than average wage may be ripe for some increase.

d) San Francisco – Oakland – Freemont, California. ($73,800 + 14%)

Bay Area is a great paying market to start with, noted by Lee Mcpheters, Managing Director of Economic Outlook Center which is based in Arizona State University. Having a highly skilled workers away form local competitors, as well far across the country. The region relies in health care product and services too, and industries where the unemployment rates are low (3.2%) for hospital workers, and labor shortages tends to drive up wages.

e) Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.  ($51,900+14%)


Just like in El Paso and Honolulu, military bases are the major employer here, with well-paid jobs for military personnel, pilots, nuclear engineers and analyst.

Worst Markets Salary Growth.

a)      Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa. ($49,900, – 4%)


Budget cuts in the state capitol of Harrisburg led to 800 layoffs last year, and more are planned. Add dwindling manufacturing output and more layoffs, and wages start to shrink

b) Portland- Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash. ($57,100, – 1%)

Slower computer and gadget sales are most likely the main culprit here. Wages start to shrink. Big area employers such as Intel scaled back last year are just starting to recover.

c) Springfield, Mass. ($49,700, -1%)


Study shows that there’s simply no strong driver to bring wage growth. Save for Social workers, everything is dwindling.

d) Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa. ($44,200, – 1%)

Region relies heavily on auto making industry making businesses. “There’s still a ripple effect out there from the auto industry”. PayScale stated.


e) Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. ($ 59,500 – 1%)

Everybody know what happen here, plunging automotive sales led to mass layoffs, even college graduate such as engineers and sales consultant were not spared.