Top U.S. metro areas for salary growth for median incomes


“For decades, wages have been rising,” says Issi Romem, a fellow at the ADP Research Institute. And as of the last few years, amid the pandemic, “they’ve been rising more.”

Romem is part of a team of ADP researchers who recently surveyed the 53 biggest metro areas in the U.S. (those with more than 1 million residents) to see where salaried workers had seen the biggest gains between 2019 and 2021. Among its findings, The Geography of Recent U.S. Wage Growth found salaried workers at every end of the spectrum ― high, median and low ― saw a rise.

When it comes to median-income earners, for example, average monthly earnings in the U.S. went from $6,325 in 2019 to $6,753 in 2021, a 6.77% rise.

Here are the 10 metro areas with the greatest gains for median-income earners, including their percent gain and average monthly salaries in 2019 and 2021.

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

Percent gain: 9.40% 

2019 monthly salary: $7,063

2021 monthly salary: $7,727

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-Pennsylvania

Percent gain: 9.51% 

2019 monthly salary: $6,763

2021 monthly salary: $7,406

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

Percent gain: 9.71% 

2019 monthly salary: $6,987

2021 monthly salary: $7,666

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan

Percent gain: 9.97% 

2019 monthly salary: $5,632

2021 monthly salary: $6,193

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Percent gain: 10.00% 

2019 monthly salary: $6,275

2021 monthly salary: $6,902

New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana

Percent gain: 10.57% 

2019 monthly salary: $5,045

2021 monthly salary: $5,579

Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island-Massachusetts

Percent gain: 11.12% 

2019 monthly salary: $6,156

2021 monthly salary: $6,841

Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California

Percent gain: 11.22% 

2019 monthly salary: $6,600

2021 monthly salary: $7,340

Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina-South Carolina

Percent gain: 12.36% 

2019 monthly salary: $6,081

2021 monthly salary: $6,832

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, New York

Percent gain: 14.01% 

2019 monthly salary: $5,276

2021 monthly salary: $6,015

“Labor shortages are the key word that explains what is going on,” says Sinem Buber, lead economist at ZipRecruiter. “We don’t have enough people, we have too many jobs.” This tight labor market ultimately means employers are competing for workers and raising wages as a result.

Employers are also trying to keep wages in sync with inflation, she says, which has affected the price of food and shelter, among other expenses, this past year. The consumer price index rose 8.3% year over year in August.

Many workers are reporting their current paychecks ― even after a raise ― aren’t enough.

“We are able to afford less with a bigger paycheck ― that’s the case for every single percentile in the wage spectrum,” says Buber. “Workers are demanding higher wages right now because they are not able to keep up with the high inflation.”

Check out:

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What’s a good salary or raise to ask for right now? How to find your number in this wild job market

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Top U.S. metro areas for salary growth for median incomes

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