Special Report – February 2013 Progress Report: U.S. Metros Wage Growth & Trends

Ed Burghard

Absolute wages and year-over-year growth are indicators many people look at to assess the general health of an economy. The press routinely reports the national numbers. For perspective, between 2010 and 2012, the non-inflation adjusted national wages have increased +4.7%.

But the national trend is not always a valid measure of what is happening locally. And when business executives are looking to identify a location to site a new facility, the local situation is often the most relevant to their decision.


New Report

Recently, Garner Economics LLC published a report titled “Progress Report: U.S. Metros Wage Growth & Trends” (February 2013) that provides data on the wages and trends over the last two years for the nation’s 372 metro areas. Tom Tveidt, a research economist with Garner Economics LLC, authored the Report.

“National trends make for good headlines and broad simple generalizations of the economy, but in truth they are only aggregations of the activities happening within many unique local economies. The nation’s 372 metropolitan areas represent the real economic dynamism underlying the headline trends, and rarely do they fall in lockstep. Economies are all local, as evidenced by our wage report.” Jay Garner, CEcD, CCE, President & Founder of Garner Economics LLC

I encourage you to read this REPORT. It will provide you insight into what business executives are looking at when evaluating your community for inclusion in the short list of location choices. The perception of Elizabethtown, Kentucky with an inflation-adjusted wage growth of +41.6% in the last 2-years will be very different than Champaign-Urbana, Illinois with an inflation-adjusted wage decline of -18.0% over the same time period.

Key Questions To Ask and Answer

In my mind, the important questions are –

  1. Where does your community stand relative to the competition and relative to the Nation?
  2. What are the implications of the trend on your business attraction, retention and expansion efforts?
  3. How will you respond to a request from either a site selection consultant or business executive to better understand the real drivers behind your community’s wage trend?


Special thanks to Jay and the team at Garner Economics LLC for authoring the Report and allowing me to share it with you.


How have you successfully leveraged positive wage data or satisfactorily explained negative wage data to executives evaluating your community? What has been your experience on the importance of these data in the site selection process?

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