St. George wages rank 2nd lowest in nation

Downtown St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Wages in St. George are among the lowest in the nation in value after factoring in cost of living, according to a study published this month by the Pew Research Center. The study calculated the highest and lowest average wages by city.

When adjusted for regional price variations, the study shows St. George wages lagging at the bottom of the nation’s 381 metro areas in average weekly wages – second only to Ocean City, New Jersey.

St. George paychecks averaged out to $655 per week after factoring in regional price parities to account for higher or lower living costs, according to the study.

A second city in Utah also ranked on the list of low average weekly wages. Logan finished on the list with the eighth-lowest adjusted wages in the country – with paychecks averaging $709 per week after adjustments.

“Prices for everything from housing to groceries vary widely from place to place,” the research center noted, “with the result being that a given income can mean very different things in New York, New Orleans, or New Bern, North Carolina.”

Biggest and smallest U.S. paychecks, after cost-of-living adjustment

The real value of $10, or its purchasing power, depends on where you live. Two metro areas might have similar wages to each other but differing costs of living that changes the value. A wage that might be barely adequate in a big city could be well above the norm in a rural small town.

To rank “purchasing power,” Pew used the most recent available data for wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics along with the latest set of regional price parities, or RPPs, developed by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The RPPs measure local price levels in each of the nation’s 381 metropolitan statistical areas, as well as the nonmetropolitan portions of states, relative to the overall national price level.

Silicon Valley has the highest average pay in the United States – $2,069 a week, according to federal wage data. Surprisingly, even after factoring in the region’s notoriously high cost of living, wages come out on top in terms of relative purchasing power, according to the analysis.

Even though the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, metro area, which covers Silicon Valley, has the third-highest cost of living in the country, according to the data, its adjusted wage of $1,706 is still more than $400 higher than the rest of the competition.

In contrast, the biggest negative differential is in Honolulu, which has the highest regional price level of any metro area in the country. When adjusted for the local cost of living, Honolulu’s average wage of $932 shrinks by more than 18 percent, to $761.

The study’s smallest adjusted wage is found in Ocean City, New Jersey, which has both one of the lowest unadjusted average wages – $640 a week – and a cost of living that’s 8.4 percent above the national average. Together, that makes the area’s adjusted average weekly wage just $590.

“High regional price levels can erode the real value of wages, but relatively low prices can effectively offset low wages, at least to some extent,” the Pew Research Center study states.

Some cities had low average incomes, but made the “Highest weekly wages” list because of low living costs, which gives wages more purchasing power.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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39 Comments

  • R. June 16, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    This nothing to be proud of

    • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Yeah, but this type of news needs to be said!

      This needs to be jammed down everyone’s throat until they realize that the top percentage of people that control the money in this town are getting away with murder!

  • 42214 June 16, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    The worst part of this story is that I get the feeling many SG business leaders and civic management are proud of this. If it wasn’t for tourism and retirees moving here with their own wealth St George would be a dusty truck stop on I/15.

    • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Exactly! This place could very well end up like Mesquite. Its a freaking joke so of the crap that employers get away with here.

      *Internet troll* “If you don’t like it, then leave”

      My response – “If you could afford to leave then i would!!!!”

  • Bob June 16, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    it’s a tourist, retirement, and service based economy, add to that the fact that mormon employers don’t believe in fair wages and you’ve got a place with lots of dead end low paying jobs. If I didn’t run my own business and own a house it would not be worth trying to make it in such an economy. I’ll be the idiots to the punch: “if you don’t like it, leave!”

    • Bob June 16, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      I’ll *beat the idiots to the punch

      • .... June 17, 2016 at 10:16 am

        Oh good that means you’re leaving ?

      • .... June 18, 2016 at 10:55 pm

        Well you can always move away !

    • Kristi June 17, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      And the Mormons don’t like to hire anyone that’s a non member of their church either.

  • hiker75 June 16, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Wow, surprised we are not first.

  • chilered June 16, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    This is real sad.

  • .... June 17, 2016 at 6:48 am

    It’s Obamas fault. !

    • Kristi June 17, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      What isn’t his fault? On wait whatever is Clinton’s fault isn’t his. Lol

    • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Not just Obama. It is everyone’s fault. I hated our current president as much as I hated the previous one. But it’s not always the president thats causing the issue. Its those losers in congress. You know..the ones that work part time, make over $100k a year un-taxed, with free healthcare for life!

  • Common Sense June 17, 2016 at 7:06 am

    I’ve lived in a bigger city and made twice what I make here. The cost of living is 30% lower here than the city I moved from. Life is simpler in St. G and peaceful and mostly safe. I am happy to have found St. George. I can’t image it would ever just be a “dusty truck stop”. That seems like something a local unappreciative millennial would say. We are surrounded by beautiful red rocks and abundant wildlife.

    • Bob June 17, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Go tell all that to the guy scrubbing toilets for 8 bucks an hour. ” beautiful red rocks and abundant wildlife” don’t have much meaning when someone can’t make enough for rent or food.

      • .... June 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm

        If you don’t like it leave !

        • JediJames13 July 2, 2016 at 11:40 pm

          kind of hard to leave if you can’t afford it

          • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm

            Thank god someone said it!

      • Kristi June 18, 2016 at 12:03 am

        I know those beautiful red rocks and abundant wildlife are just helping pay my kids wages while he scrubbing toilets. He can’t even look out a window to enjoy them while he scrubs away!

    • 42214 June 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Let’s see Common Sense about your 30% lower cost of living. I bought a Cadillac at the local dealer and the MSRP was the same as it is in SLC, Las Vegas, or LA. Then I went to the gas station and put gas in my new Cadillac and the gas wasn’t 30% less than SLC, as a matter of fact St G traditionally has the highest gas prices in the state. I drove my Caddy to dinner and noted that the prices on the menu weren’t even close to 30% less than the same chain restaurant prices in another city. I did note that the server was getting paid about 50% less than servers in LA, Vegas, or other areas. I went to the doctor for my annual physical and was surprised that it wasn’t 30% less than when I went to the doctor where I use to live. I bought some groceries and was pleased to see that they were probably 5% less than other municipal areas.
      My gardener for sure isn’t 30% cheaper or the house cleaning service I use. I’m pretty sure vehicle registration is the same in St G as any other city in Utah. I could go on but I think I made my point. Your claim and accepting attitude of this embarrassing fact is moronic. I did carelessly omit the fact that we are surrounded by pretty red rocks. I wouldn’t know but should I assume the “Church” only wants 3% of your paycheck instead of 10%. That would account for the 30% lower cost of living here. PS, I’m not a local unappreciative millennial.

    • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Oh millennials are to blame? You think we are all the same? Common sense, what you are is ignorant.
      I appreciate every job i ever had, but I laugh at employers that get upset when a “valued” employee leaves for a higher paying job.

      I have no problem earning less than minimum wage or just the minimum wage, but I expect to pay a lot less taxes, less for food, less for gas, less for my utilities, and less for rent.

      Everybody I know that worked in the well deserved low paying jobs, like McDonalds…they know they are not supposed to get more than minimum wage. But what about those that bust their butts off in retail and never get thanked for it, or servers, bank tellers, administrative assistants?

      It’s 2016 and it’s time you caught up with the 21st century my friend.

  • Real Life June 17, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    This is great news for the corporations that continue to build distribution centers and manufacturing plants here. There are very few for lease signs in our industrial complexes. Low wages equal big profits. Unfortunately for a lot of locals, one big side effect will be the “undesirables” that come in pursuit of those low paying jobs.

    • .... June 18, 2016 at 8:47 am

      Nobody said you have to live in St George. You don’t like it …leave !

      • An actual Independent June 18, 2016 at 3:28 pm

        There it is. The classic St George ignorant response to everything.

  • An actual Independent June 17, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    It’s not just that, as some say, “Employers here just won’t pay”. We have an economy based on service to So Cal retirees. And selling homes to So Cal retirees. And selling oversized, overpriced homes to young families who can’t afford them but think it’s OK to leave the bank holding the bag when they default. Many transplant retirees here are much more prosperous than those earning a living here, but the first words out of their mouths are “fixed income”. In a service economy, the vast majority of employers are very small businesses. Those businesses are competing with each other for the few dollars that the “fixed income” crowd will spend. These employers are struggling to survive, and most do not. They are simply not able to pay what somebody in Las Vegas would because there just isn’t enough money in circulation here. It has a depressing effect on everybody, including those evil small business owners.

    • Bob June 17, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      a lot of businesses here rake in huge revenues and yet still pay just a notch above minimum wage. yes, some do struggle, but a lot of thriving businesses pay a pittance because they can, and so they do.

      • .... June 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

        so go work someplace else !

        • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          Can you please formulate an intelligent response? Or is the silver spoon in your mouth corrupting your ability to think? You hick!

          • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:32 pm

            “…..” that message is to you.

            Can you please formulate an intelligent response? Or is the silver spoon in your mouth corrupting your ability to think? You hick!

      • An actual Independent June 19, 2016 at 11:02 am

        Of course they do. They pay the going rate.
        I’m sure all the people lamenting this probably insist on paying more than the marked price for everything they buy, just because it seems like the right thing to do.

  • Jeremiah June 17, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    The thing the study failed to mention is the large number of students at the universities here and in Logan. If you just looked at people in their working years I wonder how it would look.

    • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      Working years huh? I’m 28 yrs old and I have busted my butt at every job I have had and never earned more than $15(And that was for a very short time before the company laid me off so the owner could still get his bonus that year).

  • .... June 18, 2016 at 8:51 am

    If you want to make a decent wage with decent benefits the first rule is …Do Not Work For A Mormon Employer !

    • Real Life June 18, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Wow are you “special”.

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