The Surprising U.S. Cities Where Your Salary Goes the Furthest


Salaries in major metropolises like New York and Los Angeles may be higher, but your paycheck will go a lot farther in a small or mid-sized city. A new analysis by Indeed Hiring Lab lists the cities with the highest salaries, after they’ve been adjusted for cost of living—in other words, where residents get the most bang for their buck, City Lab reports.

The breakdown is based on job listings and salaries posted on Indeed's website from July 2017 to June 2018, as well as 2016 cost of living data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The analysis looked at 185 cities with a population of at least 250,000 people.

Coming in first place with an adjusted salary of $80,880 (compared to an unadjusted salary of $67,778) are the Texan cities of Brownsville and Harlingen. They're located about 23 miles apart, but together they make up a Census Bureau-designated region of about 335,200 people. (For a few of the slots on the top 10 list, a larger geographic region encompassing two or three cities, and sometimes two or three states, was identified).

Courtesy of Indeed, here are the top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest adjusted salaries:

1. Brownsville-Harlingen (Texas)
2. Kingsport-Bristol (Tennessee, Virginia)
3. Huntington-Ashland (West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio)
4. Merced (California)
5. Spartanburg (South Carolina)
6. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton (North Carolina)
7. Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula (Mississippi)
8. Toledo (Ohio)
9. Birmingham-Hoover (Alabama)
10. South Bend-Mishawaka (Indiana, Michigan)

However, there's one caveat: These 10 cities aren't necessarily the ones with the best job opportunities. "Places where adjusted salaries are higher often serve up other challenges," Indeed writes in its report. "They tend to have higher unemployment today and are projected to have slower job growth."

Perhaps of greater interest, Indeed did another calculation of the cities with the highest adjusted salaries and above-average opportunities. The geographic region of Duluth (Minnesota, Wisconsin) came out on top with an adjusted salary of $75,910, compared to an unadjusted salary of $68,547.

Here are the top 10 cities for both adjusted salary and jobs:

1. Duluth (Minnesota, Wisconsin)
2. Wilmington (North Carolina)
3. Lubbock (Texas)
4. San Antonio-New Braunfels (Texas)
5. St. Louis (Missouri, Illinois)
6. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade (California)
7. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway (Arkansas)
8. Salem (Oregon)
9. Kalamazoo-Portage (Michigan)
10. Gainesville (Florida)

[h/t City Lab]

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America's Top 25 Colleges and Universities for 2021

Harvard University's Memorial Hall.
Harvard University's Memorial Hall.

Deciding what makes a certain college more desirable than another is highly subjective. Some prospective students might think a championship-winning football team and a massive student body are major selling points, while others prize a small, tightly knit community above all else.

To try to come as close as possible to identifying objectively great colleges and universities around the country, WalletHub analyzed a whopping 30 factors in seven categories, from student selectivity and cost to campus experience and career outcomes. These encompass basic metrics—admissions rate and average class size, for example—as well as more specific considerations, like study abroad programs, on-campus employment opportunities, and the median salaries of recent graduates.

Of all 1008 schools included in the study, the Ivy League ones continue to reign supreme. Harvard University ranked first, with a score of 78.6 across all 30 metrics, edging out Yale by just .03 points. Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Brown also made the top 25. With low acceptance rates and high graduation rates—not to mention huge endowments—these stately old institutions are rather difficult to compete with, but they’re definitely not the only esteemed places to get a four-year education.

As a testament to the continuing success of the tech industry, three technology institutes made WalletHub’s list: Massachusetts in third place, California in fifth, and Georgia in 11th. Those three schools ranked in the top five for return on educational investment, meaning that graduates make high starting salaries compared to how much their education actually cost.

Geographically, New England (and the East coast in general) is home to a majority of the top schools, though five from California alone did chart, too: Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; Pomona College; and Claremont McKenna College, in addition to the aforementioned California Institute of Technology.

Check out the top 25 below, and see where your alma mater ranks on WalletHub’s full list here.

  1. Harvard University // 78.6
  1. Yale University // 78.57
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology // 78.44
  1. Princeton University // 78.41
  1. California Institute of Technology // 77.65
  1. Stanford University // 77.12
  1. Rice University // 76.96
  1. Northwestern University // 75.4
  1. Duke University // 75.18
  1. University of Pennsylvania // 74.95
  1. Georgia Institute of Technology // 74.92
  1. Vanderbilt University // 74.66
  1. University of California, Berkeley // 74.54
  1. Columbia University // 74.51
  1. Johns Hopkins University // 74.37
  1. University of Chicago // 73.59
  1. Dartmouth College // 73.43
  1. Williams College // 73.19
  1. Brown University // 73.17
  1. Carnegie Mellon University // 73.11
  1. Washington and Lee University // 73.08
  1. Swarthmore College // 73.08
  1. Pomona College // 72.92
  1. Claremont McKenna College // 72.84
  1. Amherst College // 72.83