The States and Cities with the Largest Increase in Pay Over the Last 10 Years

The States and Cities with the Largest Increase in Pay Over the Last 10 Years

The United States has seen significant changes over the last ten years, from technology and innovations to policies and regulations. These changes have provided a variety of economic opportunities for different parts of the country which has lead to significant amounts of growth. For some cities and some states, that has meant a large increase in annual average pay. For others, it’s been less of an increase. 

With that in mind, we analyzed the annual average pay in every state as well as over 350 cities in the United States to find those who have grown the most. We used the most current data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) and compared it to data from 10 years prior (2008). We looked at the average for all occupations and analyzed numbers on the annual wage each year as well as the percent and dollar increase. 

Table of Contents

The Numbers by State


North Dakota came in as the state with the highest average wage increase by percentage at 41.2%. That came to an average increase of $14,470. Interestingly, the second highest percent increase is not a state, but Washington, D.C. The District saw a 29.7% increase over the last decade. Rounding out the rest of the top five are Nebraska (29.2%), Iowa (28.5%), and Montana (28.3%). 

The state with the lowest percent increase was Michigan at 15.4% which meant an increase of $6.620. Idaho (16.5%), Delaware (17.8%), Nevada (18.4%), and Kentucky (18.7%) have the next four lowest percent increase. 

Here are the numbers for each state in a sortable table:

You can also look at the data by states with the highest and lowest average annual pay. In 2008, the top five were D.C. ($67,810), Massachusetts ($50,990), New York ($49,590), Connecticut ($49.530), and New Jersey ($48,690). In 2018, the top of the rankings were mostly the same except for the fifth highest state. D.C. was still the highest at $87,920, then Massachusetts ($63,910), New York ($61,870), and Connecticut ($60,780). Washington was the new fifth highest at $59,410. 

As for the states with the lowest average annual wages, it was South Dakota ($32,700), Mississippi ($33,120), West Virginia ($33,510), Arkansas ($33,830), and Montana ($43,860) in 2008. However, in 2018, the ranking of the bottom five was Missouri ($39,420), Arkansas ($41,540), South Dakota ($41,800), West Virginia ($42,370), and Louisiana ($42,660).

Check out our analysis of the largest industry in each state

The Numbers by City

Additionally, we were interested in looking at not only the states, but the cities as well when it came to pay and increase in pay. We analyzed over 350 cities, again using overall average annual pay in 2008 and 2018 for all occupations. After crunching the numbers, here are the top 20 cities by percent increase in pay:

Coming in at number one is Midland, TX. They saw a whopping 44% increase in average annual pay, going from $38,780 to $55,830. Two cities from North Dakota came in at number 2 and number 3, Bismarck and Fargo. They saw a 39.86% and 34.96% increase, respectively. 

At the other end, all five of the cities with the smallest percent increase in pay are all located in the midwest. Decatur, IL was the lowest at just 1.50%, translating to an increase of only $670. The next four are Kokoma, IN (4.84%), Niles / Benton Harbor, MI (8.65%), Saginaw, MI (8.69%), and Mansfield, OH (8.87%).

Like we did for the states, we were interested in seeing the cities with the highest average pay. Above is a chart with the 20 cities with the highest average annual pay in 2018. San Jose, CA, located in Silicon Valley, is the city with the highest overall average in the United States at $80,480. Rounding out the rest of the top five are San Francisco ($72,400), Washington, DC ($70,980), Bridgeport / Stamford ($68,590), CT, and Boston.($67,370).

Overall, it’s clear that some states and some parts of the country are seeing an immense amount of growth and have seen significant pay increases over the last ten years. While these numbers do not necessarily account for the increased cost of living, it’s clear that parts of the United States have seized on economic opportunities. 

Below is a table with all of the cities analyzed in this study:

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David Cusick

David Cusick is a content marketing manager and PR professional for a digital marketing agency in Raleigh, NC and has a strong news background, having worked for a local TV station. His work has won multiple awards, including Interactive Content Marketing's award for Best Use of Content Marketing and the US Search Award for Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign. When not working or writing, he can be found hanging out with his dog, generally considered his pride and joy.
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