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.”
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.
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