Average Wages by State

Average wages have remained relatively flat for more than a decade -- and for some segments of the workforce, even longer.

Mean wage data is one way to evaluate employee pay and salaries. The following states recorded the highest average weekly wages (for all industries and establishments) in 2012:

  1. New York: $1205
  2. Connecticut: $1195
  3. Massachusetts: $1171
  4. New Jersey: $1127
  5. California: $1092
  6. Maryland: $1039
  7. Illinois: $1004
  8. Washington: $999
  9. Delaware: $996
  10. Virginia: $993

To examine state wage growth over the course of the recession. Governing analyzed mean weekly wages for all industries reported in the Labor Department’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, adjusting for inflation using CPI. In the five-year period from 2007  to 2012, the following states recorded the largest declines in real average wages: Nevada (-6.5%), New York (-4.8%), Connecticut (-3.3%), Idaho (-2.7%) and Michigan (-2.7%). The only states recording mean wage increases were North Dakota (25.4%), Oklahoma (5.6%) and West Virginia (5.2%).

Average wages, though, are subject to being skewered by individuals on the high end of the pay scale. Disparities in wage growth become much more clear in measuring median wages by state. Select a state below to see changes in state median hourly wages over the past 10 years:

The above data was compiled from the Occupational Employment Statistics program, the Labor Department’s only publicly released data set that reports median wages for states. One caveat to note here is that not all data was collected in the corresponding reference year, so it’s not as responsive to shifts as other surveys.

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