It’s good to be big, right? All of the 10 largest U.S. counties have shown an increase in average weekly wages over the past year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. But those numbers can be misleading. Often times an average wage increase mean that lower-paying positions have been eliminated, leaving higher-paying positions behind to scale-up the new average. So have things gotten better? Have salaries risen to meet the demands of a higher cost of living? The answer: Yes, and no. It’s a positive sign that, “Nine of the 10 largest U.S. counties—in terms of annual average employment in 2009—experienced over-the-year percent increases in employment from December 2009 to December 2010.” And when we compare these average employment rates against the average rise in weekly wages for the same 10 U.S. counties, 9 out of the 10 cities exhibited some correlation between weekly wages hikes and  increased employment rates. Only Los Angeles, California, refused to budge on annual average employment (a 0.0% annual change)- yet still, average weekly wages rose 5.2%. In San Diego, California – the county experienced a small rise in annual employment – coupled with, “the largest increase in average weekly wages, with a gain of 5.3 percent. Within San Diego, the largest impact on the county’s average weekly wage growth came from professional and business services, where total wages increased by $268.7 million over the year (6.8 percent). Maricopa, Arizona, had the smallest wage increase among the 10 largest U.S. counties,” the B.L.S. confirms. Predictably, California still has a long road to recovery. Overall however, the data suggests positive steps towards economic recovery for most major cities.



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