Tag Archives: technology

Real Tech Worker Pay Revisited (2013 Data)

Last year TOTSB looked at tech worker pay in “How Crain’s Chicago Got Tech Worker Pay Wrong.” That post was response to a misleading story that Crain’s Chicago business published that bemoaned how Chicago tech workers’ pay was not as high as other US cities, claiming “Tech talent is in high demand in Chicago these days, and pay is going up. Unfortunately it still lags what techies make in many other big cities…”  DICE salary data was referenced which lent credence to the argument being made.

The problem with this narrative it is wrong-minded and very misleading. So far, no retraction from the author or publisher. The fact is that when compared to NYC and Silicon Valley pay and when just looking at the DICE raw numbers, it appears that workers are better off in those markets because the pay is higher.

Although this is true in Nominal Dollars, reality is different as each area has different costs of living for the same goods and services, e.g. housing, groceries, utilities and so on. Often used for analysis of inflation over time, this kind of method is referred to as Real and Nominal Value.

Click to Expand

Click to Expand

With that in mind, the data was updated with 2013 salaries expanding the number of cities reviewed from 10 to 31 US Cities. Of course, it tells a very different story from what Crain’s Chicago Business had suggested last year.

Some interesting highlights of the data:

  • Texas cities Houston, Dallas and Austin are some of the best deals for workers with Charlotte, NC and Atlanta also looking good (left-most on graph)
  • NYC and Silicon Valley are absolutely the worse deal for workers (right most on graph)
  • Chicago (my current home base) looks good better than the usual suspects, but it is well below mean and median, i.e. in comparison to many other US cities, which may have something to do with Illinois, Cook County and Chicago financial shenanigans.
  • Mean and Median were close at $80,345 and $79,050 respectively
  • Quality of living arguments can be inserted at this point (cold winters) as well as the impact of high-taxes on local economy
Rank Market Area Local Avg Index Real Dollars Comments
1 Houston $92,475 92.2 $               100,298
2 Dallas $89,952 91.9 $                 97,880
3 Charlotte $90,352 93.2 $                 96,944
4 Austin $91,994 95.5 $                 96,329
5 Atlanta $90,474 95.6 $                 94,638
6 Denver $93,195 103.2 $                 90,305
7 Cincinnati $83,537 93.8 $                 89,059
8 Raleigh $85,559 98.2 $                 87,127
9 Tampa $80,273 92.4 $                 86,876
10 Phoenix $87,114 100.7 $                 86,508
11 St. Louis $76,220 90.4 $                 84,314
12 Columbus $76,035 92.0 $                 82,647
13 Detroit $81,832 99.4 $                 82,326
14 Orlando $79,805 97.8 $                 81,600
15 Kansas City $77,329 97.8 $                 79,069
16 Cleveland $79,840 101.0 $                 79,050
17 Minneapolis $87,227 111.0 $                 78,583
18 Seattle $95,048 121.4 $                 78,293
19 Portland $84,295 111.3 $                 75,737
20 Baltimore + DC $97,588 129.8 $                 75,212 avg
21 Pittsburgh $68,100 91.5 $                 74,426
22 Miami $78,872 106.0 $                 74,408
23 Chicago $86,574 116.5 $                 74,312
24 Sacramento $85,100 116.2 $                 73,236
25 Philadelphia $92,138 126.5 $                 72,836
26 Hartford $87,265 121.8 $                 71,646
27 Boston $94,531 132.5 $                 71,344
28 LA $95,815 136.4 $                 70,246
29 San Diego $90,849 132.3 $                 68,669
30 SV $108,603 164.0 $                 66,221
31 NYC $93,915 185.8 $                 50,546 3 borough avg
Mean $87,158 $111 $80,345
Median $87,227 $101 $79,050
Mode #N/A 97.8 #N/A
Max $108,603 $186 $100,298
Min $68,100 $90 $50,546
Std Dev $8,052 $22 $10,837

SOURCES: DICE US Salary Survey 2013 and US City Cost of Living (Infoplease).

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