Top 10 Cities for High-Wage Job Growth

The question of getting the country back to work is often discussed in terms of employment and unemployment. One thing that is not so often asked is whether the jobs that are added in boom times pay as much as those that are trimmed during economic busts. This can be quite significant, as when downturns are dramatic, such as was the case during the financial crisis, positions are often trimmed without regard to salary. When jobs are being added slowly, which will hopefully be the case in coming years, positions often come with more moderate wages.

This hypothesis appears to be confirmed by a recently published study by CareerBuilder and EMSI. They look at trends in high-, medium-, and low-wage jobs, with high-wage positions being defined as those that make more than $21.14 per hour and low-wage positions being those that make less than $13.84 per hour. CareerBuilder and EMSI found that on a national scale, a disturbing number of jobs being trimmed are medium-wage, while both the high- and low-wage categories are beginning to make gains.

However, the gains are not uniform across the country, with some areas outperforming others. With that in mind, let’s look at the the top 10 large cities for high-wage job creation according to projections for the next five years.


10. Portland, Oregon

The oft-referenced capital of hipsters, Portland, is the first stop on our list, where high-wage jobs are expected to grow by 7.4 percent through 2017. Whether it’s the allure of the sitcom Portlandia, the acceleration of the indie band industry, or just a general upswing in the economy, the city is expected to post significant gains in the high-wage category over the coming years.


9. Dallas, Texas

Next up, we check in with Dallas, where the next few years will yield a growth rate of 7.7 percent for high-wage positions. The city has benefited enormously from the upswing of domestic energy production in the United States, and the city houses the headquarters of several prominent energy companies. With natural gas and oil production being ramped up in order to reach U.S. self-sufficiency in energy in the coming years, Dallas’ spot on this list is hard to question.


8. Denver, Colorado

The eighth spot on our list belongs to Denver, where high-wage positions will also grow at a rate of about 7.7 percent through 2017. The mile-high city certainly offers a varied slew of options for people searching for the perfect position that will pay the bills and put food on the table. Between the breweries, the Federal Mint, and the city’s 17th Street financial district, there are no shortage of places to put use of your talents.


7. Orlando, Florida

Orlando may be best known as the home of Disney World and its set of theme parks, but the city has more to look forward to than tourists over the next few years: It is expected to post high-wage job growth of 7.8 percent though 2017. Though the upswing in tourism — and consequently, the employment created by the upsurge for Disney — is sure to play a part in the forecast, the city’s location also gives it poise to continue on the path to economic success.


6. Raleigh, North Carolina

Next up, we shift our focus to Raleigh, which jumps up to 8.7 percent for high-wage job growth for the coming years. The city has consistently been rated one of the best for businesses, and it shows in the wages that employers are offering many workers in the city. There are plenty of positions for those looking to earn the most bucks for their time here.


5. Salt Lake City, Utah

We turn back west, namely to Salt Lake City, for the next spot on our list. Salt Lake City is expected to put up high-wage job growth of 8.8 percent in the coming years. Home to a hodgepodge of companies, the 2002 Winter Olympics, and many enterprises surrounding the Mormon Church, the city’s solid economic backbone is forecast to translate into good wages for those working there.


4. Houston, Texas

We head back to Texas — and not for the last time — for the fourth spot on our list, Houston, where job growth in the high-wage category is predicted to come in at 8.9 percent. Houston is another city that has been bolstered by the energy boom of late, reaping the rewards of the jobs that come from administrating the production, transportation, and refinement of natural gas and oil.


3. Phoenix, Arizona

This third-place finisher is expected to post high-wage job growth of 9.1 percent in the coming years. Though the city was hit hard by the downturn, Phoenix is back to kicking it in high gear, and the turnaround in the employment profile of the city is leading to tangible returns for workers there.

Austin Texas

2. Austin, Texas

The capital of Texas is the silver medalist, and its high-wage job growth of 9.4 percent over the next five years is certainly no laughing matter. Though often passed over in favor of some of Texas’s other metro areas, the city has its own share of companies and businesses that are paying big bucks for workers. Not only that, but the University of Texas provides an additional source of employment for the city.

San Antonio

1. San Antonio, Texas

The first-place finisher on our list is none other than San Antonio, another Texas powerhouse where high-wage jobs are expected to grow by 10 percent through 2017. The only major city to break the 10 percent threshold, the urban area is helped by significant presences from the military, the public sector, energy companies, health care, and communications. There isn’t really a weak spot in the economy of the city, either, with companies and jobs to suit any profile of tastes.

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