Making Government Work

5 Cities Where Successful Wage Growth Is Happening

January 5, 2017
by
5 Cities Where Successful Wage Growth Is Happening
Nashville, Tenn. Photo via Nashville Tourism
The rest of the country might learn something from these on-the-rise metropolises.

For several years after the 2008 market crash, the economic recovery was seen only in corporate earnings statements and consistent job reports. Family paychecks, meanwhile, didn’t keep pace. Average hourly wages rose at an anemic 2 percent from 2010 to 2014 — and that’s not accounting for inflation. Worse, US workers’ pay had lagged behind other indicators for nearly a decade, the result of bloated executive salaries, global outsourcing of jobs and capital investments in mechanization.

But in the last two years, that dynamic has begun to shift. Unemployment bottomed out at 4.6 percent last year (down from a high of 10 percent in 2009), meaning businesses needed to pay more to recruit and retain employees. Last October, wage growth hit a high of 2.8 percent nationwide.

In which cities has the average worker seen the biggest comparative bump in pay, as measured by higher wages and more work hours? (Hint, three are in blue states, two in red, and not one can claim more than a million residents.) Donald Trump’s 2016 victory in the Electoral College revealed the regional inequities, between the coast and the heartland, that divide our country. As a way to bridge those separations, NationSwell dug into the data to find out what drove better pay in these metro areas, offering five methods for the next administration to consider.

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