The Cities Where Salaries Are Actually Growing Relative to Rent

published Aug 15, 2017
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(Image credit: Carolyn Scott)

The whole point of having a job is to be able to afford housing, food and the necessities so you can keep on keeping on, right? So it would make sense for salaries to rise with housing costs, but that’s not always the case. In many areas, rent prices move on up without giving wages a chance to catch up, and it especially varies when you factor in the industries people work in.

A recent study from Apartment List broke down post-rent wages in 82 metro areas, across three industries: blue collar, knowledge and service. According to the findings, in most metro areas, rent prices increase steadily while wages stay stagnant, disproportionately affecting blue collar and service workers.

(Image credit: Apartment List)

As you can see in the chart above, from 2005 to 2015, post-rent wages fell 4.6 percent for blue-collar industry workers, and 6.7 percent for service industry workers, while they increased by 5.7 percent for knowledge industry workers. While knowledge industry workers typically see wage increases that suit their cost of living needs, blue-collar and service industry workers do not. According to the report, about two-thirds of the cities examined experienced post-rent wage increases for only knowledge industry workers, while wages in the other industries fell.

Not many cities experience inclusive growth (meaning that wage growth happens across all three industries, though it’s important to note that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to happen at an equal rate). But a few—six to be exact, according to the study—do: Tulsa, Okla.; Binghamton, Ala.; Providence, R.I.; Oklahoma City; Charleston, S.C.; and Rochester, N.Y.

(Image credit: Apartment List)

According to the study, Tulsa, Okla., experienced the highest post-rent wage change for blue-collar industry workers, while Rochester, N.Y., saw the highest post-rent wage change for service industry workers. Providence, R.I., saw the highest overall post-rent wage change across the board.

Those numbers are mostly due to lower rent costs and lower inflation in those areas in general. Charleston, S.C., was the only city on the list to have more expensive rent prices, but, according to the report, between the city’s manufacturing and tourism sectors, Charleston saw a lot of job growth for blue-collar and service industry workers, and not just for knowledge industry workers (as is the case in many other metro areas).

And in some cities, post-rent wages fell across the board, even for knowledge industry workers. Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Oxnard, Calif.; Boise City, Idaho; Denver, Colo.; El Paso, Texas; Greenville, S.C.; and Memphis, Tenn., all experienced a decrease in post-rent wages in all three industries.