Top 10 Cities Where Your Paycheck Packs A Powerful Punch

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IAAP Key Partner OfficeTeam recently released its 2014 Salary Guide. This annual publication is packed with useful information for administrative professionals. Aside from the salary data and macroeconomic hiring trends that you’d expect, the 2014 edition includes advice about interviewing for a job over the phone; effective job offers; temporary employees; performance appraisals and bonuses.

One of the most interesting sections is an index of salaries by city in the U.S. Salaries in each city are measured against an average value of 100. For instance, Atlanta, Ga., has a salary index of 105, which means that employees in that city earn five percent more than the national average. It’s useful because you can apply that against the average pay for your profession. For instance, an executive assistant who earns the national average $46,000 in Des Moines, Iowa (index 100), is likely to earn about $60,260 in Stamford, Conn. (index 131).

Using that index, here are the top 10 cities in the U.S. in terms of pay for administrative professionals (along with their index), based on OfficeTeam’s salary guide research:

1. New York, N.Y. (141)
2. San Francisco, Calif. (135.5)
3. San Jose, Calif. (133) and Boston, Mass. (133)
4. Stamford, Conn (131)
5. Washington, D.C. (130.5)
6. Paramus, N.J. (130) and Tysons Corner, Va. (130)
7. Princeton, N.J. (127)
8. Woodbridge, N.J. (126)
9. Los Angeles (125) and Oakland, Calif. (125)
10. Irvine, Calif. (124.5)

We’ve used OfficeTeam’s extensive data as a baseline and gathered additional research to compare local salaries with local cost of living. What you earn is always relative to your expenses. It’s great to make 41 percent more than the average because you work in New York, but it also costs a lot more to live in that great city.

To get some perspective, we’ve taken the data for each community in OfficeTeam’s salary index data and subtracted the cost-of-living index published by the Council for Community and Economic Research. If the result is a negative number, it suggests that each dollar you earn won’t go as far. A positive sum means you can purchase more of life’s necessities with each paycheck.

Balancing local salaries and cost of living produces a much different list compared to the one above. Here are the top 10 cities in the U.S. in terms of paycheck power for administrative professionals (along with the difference between the two indices).

1. Fort Worth, Texas (14.4)
2. Houston, Texas (13.8)
3. Dallas, Texas (13.6)
4. St. Louis, Mo. (9.9)
5. Nashville, Tenn. (9.6)
6. Greensboro, N.C. (9.4) and Atlanta, Ga. (9.4)
7. Des Moines, Iowa (9.1)
8. Austin, Texas (8.5)
9. Charlotte, N.C. (7.8)
10. Phoenix, Ariz. (7.3) and Saint Petersburg, Fla. (7.3)

Notice any trends? The American South and Midwest are relatively better choices if you want to get the most miles out of your paycheck as an administrative professional. There are only three major east or west coast cities on the list: Atlanta, Charlotte and Saint Petersburg. By this measure, start packing for Texas.

Check out the slideshow at the top of the page for more insights about the cities on this list. Stay tuned, because we’ll be providing a follow up post looking at the cities where your paycheck as an administrative professional will quickly get consumed by life’s daily necessities.

Sources: OfficeTeam 2014 Salary Guide; infoplease.com U.S. cost-living-index; Sperling’s Best Places

(Ray Weikal is a communications specialist for IAAP and can be reached at ray.weikal@iaap-hq.org.)

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