Adjusting wages for costs of living shows just how far workers' paychecks will go in each metro area.
Governing compiled federal earnings data for private-sector workers, adjusting for the cost of living using an index published by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The adjusted wages varied greatly across the country, ranging from $14.31 in Flagstaff, Ariz., to $29.92 in Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., for 2014. The metro area average for all regions reviewed was $22.39 per hour.
The following map shows estimated 2014 annual average private sector wages after adjusting for cost of living. Data is shown for 191 metro areas with available Labor Department and Cost of Living Index data. See the notes below on how wages were computed.
Click a metro area to display its wage data. Zoom in to view areas clustered together, or pan the map for Alaska and Hawaii.
2014 Average Cost-of-Living Adjusted Hourly Earnings
Metro area wages were compiled from Labor Department data on average hourly earnings for all private sector employees. A calculated 12-month average included preliminary estimates for December 2014.
Wages were adjusted for cost of living using the 2014 Q3 “Cost of Living Index” published by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The composite index compares costs of living relative to all participating areas, considering expenses for housing, groceries, health care, transportation, utilities and miscellaneous goods and services.
One limitation of this adjustment is that cost of living varies within metro areas. The Council for Community and Economic Research's coverage areas used for the cost-of-living data don't all correspond perfectly with metro area boundaries used by the Labor Department, so the average adjusted wages represent approximations. The urban area(s) used for the cost of living adjustment is listed in the map info window.
A total of 191 metro areas had available BLS and corresponding Cost of Living Index data. Metro areas with missing or significantly different cost-of-living data were excluded.