Here's How Americans' Paychecks Have Changed In The Biggest Cities

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Photo: baslow via flickr

Since the financial blow of the recession, the country’s economic situation has gone through ups and downs, and some cities are still feeling this impact more than others. Especially the workers in these cities. 

In the most recent release of The PayScale Index, wages in the top metro areas by population have all risen since the previous year, but some are still far behind the national average of rising 2.3 per cent since the previous year. 

The reports says that strong, established tech companies have proven to be critical in getting wage growth back on track.

Here are the biggest cities that have either come out on top or still have a long way to go.

20. Riverside, Calif.

Changes in wages since last year: 0.3%

By the end of Q2 2012, Riverside experienced the 'highest annual wage growth for this metro since mid-2009.' However, earnings for this area is still 2 per cent below national trends by this year's end.

This metro area includes Riverside, Calif.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Ontario, Calif.

Source: Payscale

19. Phoenix, Ariz.

Change in wages since last year: 0.7%

In Q1 2012, Phoenix experienced a wage drop of more than 1 per cent, but earnings increased by almost 1.5 per cent in Q2.

This metro area includes Phoenix, Ariz.; Mesa, Ariz.; Scottsdale, Ariz.

Source: Payscale

18. Atlanta, Ga.

Change in wages since last year: 1.4%

In Q2 2012, workers in Atlanta experienced a 0.8 per cent wage growth, which means that they are now 'just below their previous 2008 peak levels.'

This metro area includes Atlanta, Ga.; Sandy Springs, Ga.; Marietta, Ga.

Source: Payscale

17. St. Louis, Mo.

Change in wages since last year: 1.6%

Those living in the land of the Gateway Arch have seen a healthy rebound in their earnings -- St. Louis is now 'above the national trend line with nearly 1 per cent year-over-year growth.'

This metro area includes St. Louis, Mo. and Belleville, Ill.

Source: Payscale

16. Minneapolis, Minn.

Change in wages since last year: 1.9%

During the first half of 2009, workers in Minneapolis were hit the hardest. Luckily, they rebounded from this low point and wages are now only slightly below their peak in 2008.

This metro area includes Minneapolis, Minn.; St. Paul, Minn.; Bloomington, Minn.; Pierce County, Wis.; and St. Croix County, Wis.

Source: Payscale

15. Los Angeles, Calif.

Change in wages since last year: 1.9%

In Q2 2012, workers in L.A. experienced more than 1 per cent in wage growth, but they still have a lot of work to do.

Payscale reports:

'L.A. wages went into a free fall during the first half of 2009, dropping below national growth levels for the first time since 2006. For the rest of 2009 and most of 2010, salaries in L.A. moved sideways, generally no better off than the nation as a whole in wage increase trends since 2006.'

This metro area includes Los Angeles, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Santa Ana, Calif; Irvine, Calif.; Glendale, Calif.; Anaheim, Calif.

Source: Payscale

14. Philadelphia, Pa.

Change in wages since last year: 1.9%

After gradual wage growth since 2010, Philadelphia experienced no increase in earnings in Q1 2012, but picked the pace back up in Q2.

'From 2007 through 2010, wages in the City of Brotherly Love tracked very closely with national averages.
Finally, 2011 marked the end of a recession-era wage depression for Philly residents as earnings grew steadily throughout the year,' Payscale reports.

This metro area includes Philadelphia, Pa.; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, Del.; New Castle County, Del.; Cecil County, Md.; Salem County, NJ.

Source: Payscale

13. Baltimore, Md.

Change in wages since last year: 1.9%

Payscale reports:

'Wages in Baltimore rose during 2007 and 2008, then dropped in 2009, following the national trend. Baltimore had a relatively good 2010, as one of the few metros to outperform national compensation trends in 2010.'

This metro area includes Baltimore and Towson, Md.

Source: Payscale

12. Boston, Mass.

Change in wages since last year: 2.3%

This area has benefited from an 'abundance of science, biotech and IT employers in 2012' which resulted in earnings growth in an 'impressive shift compared to recent earnings growth in this city.'

In the midst of the recession, wages in this area 'dropped more sharply than in many other cities,' but has steadily been rising since 2011.

This metro area includes Boston, Mass.; Cambridge, Mass.; Quincy, NH; Rockingham County, NH; Strafford County, NH; Essex County, Mass.; Newton, Mass.; Framingham, Mass.

Source: Payscale

11. Detroit, Mich.

Change in wages since last year: 2.3%

The Motor City experienced a drop in wages of 1.2 per cent in Q1 2012, but Q2 brought these workers relief.

Detroit's wage growth has been 'sluggish' since 2007.

This metro area includes Detroit, Mich.; Warren, Mich.; Livonia, Mich.; Dearborn, Mich.; Farmington Hills, Mich.; Troy, Mich.

Source: Payscale

10. Chicago, Ill.

Change in wages since last year: 2.3%

In 2008, Chicago's wages dropped at a much faster pace than most of the rest of the country and has only been slowly rising in 2012.

Payscale reports:

'After a sleepy previous three quarters, earnings in Chicago woke up and started moving in Q2 2012. A welcome 1 per cent increase in Q2 helped wage levels finish the quarter 2.3 per cent higher year-over-year.'

This metro area includes Chicago, Ill.; Naperville, Ill.; Joliet, Ill.; Gary, Ind.; Lake County, Ill.; Kenosha County, Wis.

Source: Payscale

9. New York, NY

Change in wages since last year: 2.4%

Although compensation in New York has been up and down since 2010, it's managed to stay up in 2012 and has actually exceeded its previous peak in 2008.

Payscale reports:

'Despite being at the centre of the financial industry turmoil, changes in the wage of a typical New York area worker have stayed fairly close to U.S. national trends in the last few years. New Yorkers enjoyed a faster rise in wages during 2007. This advantage was all given back during 2008, and NYC wages followed the rest of the country downward in 2009.'

'2010 was slightly positive for NYC, with wages through the end of the year showing a consistent, though slow, upward trend, outperforming the national trends in The PayScale Index.'

This metro area includes New York, NY; Long Island, NY; northern New Jersey; and Pike County, Pa.

Source: Payscale

8. Tampa, Fla.

Change in wages since last year: 2.4%

After a shaky 2011, compensation in 2012 for residents in this area 'rose dramatically' and finished almost 1 per cent higher than their previous peak levels in 2008.

This metro area includes Tampa, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Clearwater, Fla.

Source: Payscale

7. Washington, D.C.

Change in wages since last year: 2.4%

The rise in tech and science employment in this area contributed to its strong growth in Q2 2012.

'In 2011, earnings rose beyond their pre-recession peak, heading toward more typical 3-per cent-per-year growth levels,' reports Payscale.

The metro area includes Washington, DC; Arlington, Va.; Alexandria, Va.; Bethesda, Md.; Frederick, Md.; Gaithersburg, Md.; and West Virginia.

Source: Payscale

6. San Francisco, Calif.

Change in wages since last year: 2.7%

Despite compensation in this area dropping slightly at the beginning of 2012, a rise in tech and biotect research workers have helped increase wages in Q2.

'With this increase, San Francisco wage levels are less than half a per cent from their 2008 peak wage levels,' Payscale reports.

This metro area includes people in San Francisco, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; Fremont, Calif.; Hayward, Calif.; San Mateo, Calif.; and Redwood City, Calif.

Source: Payscale

5. Dallas, Texas

Change in wages since last year: 2.7%

After the recession, this area's wages grew faster than the rest of the country due to telecommunications and energy companies that bring in 'big money.'

Earnings during Q2 2012 have put this area at 2 per cent above their previous 2008 peak levels.

The area includes Dallas, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; Arlington, Texas; Plano, Texas; and Irving, Texas.

Source: Payscale

4. Miami, Fla.

Change in wages since last year: 2.9%

In the second quarter of 2012, wages in this area have finally surpassed its 2008 peak levels.

The area includes Miami, Fla.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Pompano Beach, Fla.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Boynton Beach, Fla.; Miami Beach, Fla.; Kendall, Fla.; and Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Source: Payscale

3. Seattle, Wash.

Change in wages since last year: 2.9%

Strong tech and biotech sectors have helped this area's wages rise by nearly 2 per cent since the previous quarter.

Payscale reports:

'In 2011, the combination of a strong tech sector, a resurgent aircraft sector, as well as a less-damaged construction industry than was typical nationally, helped earnings for workers in Seattle grow above their pre-recession levels for the first time.'

The metro area includes Seattle, Wash.; Tacoma, Wash.; Bellevue, Wash.; and Everett, Wash.

Source: Payscale

2. San Diego, Calif.

Change in wages since last year: 2.9%

Although this area's private sector wages have been hurting like the rest of the country, San Diego's compensation is finally on the upward track again.

The metro area includes people in San Diego, Calif.; Carlsbad, Calif.; and San Marcos, Calif.

Source: Payscale

1. Houston, Texas

Change in wages since last year: 3.0%

This area includes a variety of strong industries including 'aeronautics and healthcare, but the boom in the oil and gas industry has had the biggest positive impact on wages in Houston,' reports Payscale

In 2011, Houston began to outpace national average wage growth.

This metro area includes Houston, Texas; Sugar Land, Texas; and Baytown, Texas.

Source: Payscale

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