American Cities Where Wages Are Plummeting

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5. Flint, Mich.
> 1 yr. wage growth: -1.4%
> Average weekly wage: $816
> Dec. 2011 unemployment: 9.8%
> Dec. 2012 unemployment: 9.1%
> 1 yr. employment change: +0.1%

Although the unemployment rate in the Flint metro area fell 0.7 percentage points between December 2011 and December 2012, the number of people employed in non-farm jobs has remained stagnant. Sectors that are generally higher paying were hit disproportionately harder. The number of jobs in professional and business services, one of the larger sectors in the area in terms of total employment, fell 1.3% from December 2011 to December 2012. Moreover, government payrolls in the Flint area dropped 4.5%. The Flint area has been in economic decline for the last several decades as auto manufacturing has moved out of the area.

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4. Atlantic City, N.J.
> 1 yr. wage growth: -1.4%
> Average weekly wage: $816
> Dec. 2011 unemployment: 13.1%
> Dec. 2012 unemployment: 14.9%
> 1 yr. employment change: -2.8%

Atlantic City’s average wages rose 3.8% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 2011, but then fell in the three remaining quarters of the year compared to the previous one. The unemployment rate jumped nearly two percentage points from December 2011 to December 2012 despite falling in metro areas across the country, compounding the problem of declining wages. Atlantic City was hit incredibly hard by Hurricane Sandy, leaving businesses destroyed and many people in the city’s tourism industry out of work. The number of jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, the largest in the area, dropped 9% between December 2011 and December 2012.

3. Elizabethtown, Ky.
> 1 yr. wage growth: -1.8%
> Average weekly wage: $752
> Dec. 2011 unemployment: 8.5%
> Dec. 2012 unemployment: 7.3%
> 1 yr. employment change: +1.2%

The $752 average weekly wage in Elizabethtown during the fourth quarter of 2012 was $14, or 1.8% lower than it was in the same quarter in 2011. Jobs in professional services and the public sector declined 2% and 0.7%, respectively, between December 2011 and December 2012. Manufacturing in the Elizabethtown area grew 10.9% during that time.

2. Rocky Mount, N.C.
> 1 yr. wage growth: -2.3%
> Average weekly wage: $689
> Dec. 2011 unemployment: 13.1%
> Dec. 2012 unemployment: 13.0%
> 1 yr. employment change: -1.7%

The average weekly wage of $689 in Rocky Mount at the end of 2012 was the first time the it dropped below $700 since 2008. Although unemployment remained at nearly the same level in December 2012 compared to the year before, the number of non-farm jobs actually declined 1.7%. Employment in the largest sector in the area — trade, transportation and utilities — declined 7.4% in that time. The only industry in the area that grew its job count during that time was the lower-paying leisure and hospitality industry, growing 3.9%.

1. Anniston-Oxford, Ala.
> 1 yr. wage growth: -2.4%
> Average weekly wage: $743
> Dec. 2011 unemployment: 7.3%
> Dec. 2012 unemployment: 6.8%
> 1 yr. employment change: -0.2%

No metropolitan area suffered a greater decline in average weekly wages as Anniston did in the fourth quarter of 2012. The public sector, which often pays higher wages than the private sector, declined 3% during that time. In addition, the number of jobs in trade, transportation and utilities declined by 4.2% during the year. Job cuts and wage reductions are likely to continue in the Anniston area in 2013 as the federal sequestration hits the Anniston Army Depot, which makes up a large share of the area’s workforce.

Also Read: American Cities Where Wages Are Soaring