Special Report

25 Cities With The Highest Paying Jobs

Source: Davel5957 / Getty Images

25 (tied). Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA
> Median annual wage: $48,070
> Apr. 2021 unemployment rate: 6.9%
> Poverty rate: 11.9%

The median annual wage in the Sacramento metro area of California was $48,070 in 2020. This is tied for the 25th highest across the nearly 400 major metropolitan areas in America. The median annual earnings in the area increased by 15.9% from 2015 to 2020, exactly in line with the wage growth nationwide.

The number of people working in the Sacramento area increased to 968,520 in 2020, up by nearly 100,000 people from 2015. This represents a 10.7% increase — the highest jump of any metro area on this list.

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25 (tied). Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI
> Median annual wage: $48,070
> Apr. 2021 unemployment rate: 8.7%
> Poverty rate: 7.2%

The Norwich-New London-Westerly area along the border of Connecticut and Rhode Island now ranks as one of the 25 metro areas with the highest median annual wage in the U.S. with most workers earning over $48,000 annually. From 2015 to 2020, the area’s median annual wages increased by 24.4% — one of the 10 largest increases among all metro areas.

The number of people working in the Norwich area declined by 12.6% from 2015 to 2020, one of the largest drops of any major metropolitan area in the U.S. Of the 26 cities with the highest paying jobs, 14 reported increases in employment over the last five years, while a dozen lost jobs over that same time period. For context, the total number of workers in the U.S. increased 0.9% from 2015 to 2020.

24. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
> Median annual wage: $48,200
> Apr. 2021 unemployment rate: 7.1%
> Poverty rate: 10.3%

There are nearly 1.4 million workers in the San Diego metro area in southern California, most of whom earn over $48,000 in wages per year. Biochemist, biophysicist, and biological scientist are relatively highly concentrated jobs in the San Diego area when compared to the occupation’s concentration in the national labor force. These jobs tend to pay much higher wages than the typical job.

Like nearly every other area on this list, goods and services in the San Diego area tend to be expensive. The area’s cost of living is nearly 18% higher than the average nationwide, the 10th highest cost of living among all major metro areas in the nation. Home values tend to be high in the San Diego area as well. The median home is worth $619,300, more than double the U.S. median of $240,500.

Source: Art Wager / Getty Images

23. Urban Honolulu, HI
> Median annual wage: $48,310
> Apr. 2021 unemployment rate: 7.8%
> Poverty rate: 8.1%

The median annual wage for all jobs in the Honolulu metro area increased from $39,690 in 2015 to $48,310 in 2020, a 21.7% increase. The area went from having the 32nd highest annual median wage in the country to the 23rd highest. The area’s higher wages are offset by Honolulu’s high cost of living, which is 23.8% higher than average nationwide and is the fourth highest cost of living in the U.S.

Two of the most highly concentrated jobs in Honolulu, relative to the national concentration, are cooks and baggage porters, which both rely on Hawaii’s tourism industry. That industry shut down for much of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many without a job. Compared to 2015, the number of people working in the Honolulu area declined by 8.6% in 2020.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

22. New Haven, CT
> Median annual wage: $48,410
> Apr. 2021 unemployment rate: 7.3%
> Poverty rate: 12.2%

The median annual wage in the New Haven, Connecticut, area is higher than in all but 21 other major metropolitan areas in the U.S., at $48,410. The median annual wage nationwide is $41,950. Unlike most other areas on this list, wages in the New Haven area have increased relatively slowly, growing just 12.9% from 2015 to 2020. Nationwide, wages increased 15.9% during that time period.

From 2015 to 2020, the number of people working in the New Haven area declined 3.6%, from nearly 280,000 to just under 270,000. Across the country, the number of total workers increased by 0.9%, even after taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the job market.

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