17 US cities where the average salary goes much further than you'd think

Woman Checking Phone in Park PicnicFlickr / John Loo

  • A high salary won't go very far when a city's goods, services, and housing prices are high, too.
  • An economist from the Indeed Hiring Lab gathered salary data for similar jobs across America's biggest metros to find out which have the highest salaries after adjusting for cost of living.
  • The analysis revealed that salaries go the furthest in Southern and Midwestern cities, such as Birmingham, Alabama; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Big cities may come with big salaries, but your paycheck can shrink when you factor in cost of living.

In a new study from the Indeed Hiring Lab, chief economist Jed Kolko analyzed 185 metros across America to find out where workers' paychecks go the furthest.

Kolko used salary data from job postings on Indeed between April 2018 and April 2019 to find the average salary for similar jobs across metros. He then applied local cost-of-living data from US Bureau of Economic Analysis, which included the price of housing, services, and goods.

Kolko notes that unadjusted salary figures are highest in - you guessed it - California metros like San Jose and San Francisco. But when cost of living is factored in to arrive at the true purchasing power for the average worker, those places fall down the list.

"The ten metros with the highest adjusted salaries are all small and mid-size metros," Kolko wrote. "These aren't just odd exceptions - it's a general pattern. Unadjusted salaries are 7% higher in metros with at least two million people than in metros with fewer than 250,000 people - but salaries after adjusting for living costs are 9% lower. "

Kolko concluded: "For job seekers in most places, there's another metro with a similar mix of jobs that offers higher adjusted salaries."

Of the 50 largest metro areas by population, these are the 17 where salaries go the furthest.

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17. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

17. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The average salary for listed jobs in Pittsburgh is $67,300.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $71,600.

16. Las Vegas, Nevada

16. Las Vegas, Nevada

The average salary for listed jobs in Las Vegas is $70,000.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $71,700.

15. Buffalo, New York

15. Buffalo, New York

The average salary for listed jobs in Buffalo is $68,300.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $71,900.

14. Charlotte, North Carolina

14. Charlotte, North Carolina

The average salary for listed jobs in Charlotte is $67,900.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $72,300.

12 (TIE). San Antonio, Texas

12 (TIE). San Antonio, Texas

The average salary for listed jobs San Antonio is $68,500.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $72,500.

12 (TIE). St. Louis, Missouri

12 (TIE). St. Louis, Missouri

The average salary for listed jobs St. Louis is $66,300.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $72,500.

11. Cleveland, Ohio

11. Cleveland, Ohio

The average salary for listed jobs in Cleveland is $65,600.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $72,700.

10. Detroit, Michigan

10. Detroit, Michigan

The average salary for listed jobs in Detroit is $70,000.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $73,000.

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The average salary for listed jobs in Milwaukee is $70,000.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $73,200.

8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The average salary for listed jobs in Oklahoma City is $67,200.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $73,500.

7. Columbus, Ohio

7. Columbus, Ohio

The average salary for listed jobs Columbus is $67,900.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $73,600.

6. Sacramento, California

6. Sacramento, California

The average salary for listed jobs in Sacramento is $75,200.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $73,700.

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

The average salary for listed jobs in Indianapolis is $68,400.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $74,300.

4. Louisville, Kentucky

4. Louisville, Kentucky

The average salary for listed jobs in Louisville is $67,900.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $74,700.

3. Cincinnati, Ohio

3. Cincinnati, Ohio

The average salary for listed jobs in Cincinnati is $67,900.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $75,400.

2. Memphis, Tennessee

2. Memphis, Tennessee

The average salary for listed jobs in Memphis is $70,000.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $76,800.

1. Birmingham, Alabama

1. Birmingham, Alabama

The average salary for listed jobs in Birmingham is $68,400.

After adjusting for cost of living, it's really like earning $77,000.

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