Where to Move for the Highest Paychecks
BOSTON ( MainStreet) Looking to make a fresh start in 2014? Here's a look at the five U.S. cities you can move to and find the highest-paying jobs, even after factoring in such variables as your education level and chosen profession.
"There's no one definitive reason that explains why these communities have high pay. Economists have various theories for the differences between cities," says Jed Kolko of home-buying site Trulia.com, which recently analyzed average earnings in 1,900 U.S. metro areas.
Kolko, who serves as chief economist at Trulia, says many experts believe cities with the highest pay scales have lots of educated workers who boost productivity levels freeing up money for big salaries.
"The one thing these cities have in common is that they all have pretty educated populations," he says. "People in these metros tend to have higher education levels or more skills."
The expert adds that many high-wage cities also have lots of firms in lucrative sectors such as technology or financial services, where everyone from the CEO to the janitor typically enjoys generous pay.
Still, Kolko says consumers shouldn't simply flock to the cities at the top of Trulia's list, as "home prices there are usually high and if everyone moved there, they'd get ever higher."
But if that's not enough to deter you, click below to check out which cities offer workers the highest average earnings after adjusting for factors such as profession and education.
Trulia based its rankings on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey five-year public use microdata sample for 2011, the latest year with figures available.
All numbers refer to locations where people work rather than live, and statistics cover entire metro areas rather than just city limits. "Earnings premium" figures estimate how much extra you can expect to make in a given city when compared with the national average for people who have similar qualifications.
Fifth-best metro area for high-paying jobs: Oakland, Calif.
Earnings premium: 21.7%
Located across the bay from San Francisco and some 40 miles north of Silicon Valley, the Oakland area shares its two neighbors' reputations for plenty of high-wage, high-tech jobs.
Kolko attributes Oakland residents' above-average earnings partly to their high levels of education. "There's a great university there, and that kind of thing tends to raise the educational level of an entire metro area," he says, referring to the University of California, Berkeley.
If that sounds good to you, click here to check out more than 1,700 Oakland-area homes listed for sale.
Fourth-best metro area for high-paying jobs: Washington, D.C.
Earnings premium: 26.3%
Consider Washington's above-average pay scales a sign of your tax dollars at work.