15 U.S. Cities With the Most Growth in High-Paying Jobs

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Stessa.

One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s most significant long-term effects on the economy could be rising wages. With widespread shortages in the labor market reported this summer, many employers — particularly those with lower-wage employees — have tried to entice workers with improved compensation and benefits. These trends have led to the fastest rates of wage growth since the Great Recession, especially among the lowest earners.

Twenty years ago, only 0.7% of American workers were in jobs that typically paid more than $100,000 per year. By 2015, that share was 3.8%. And in the last five years alone, the percentage of American workers in six-figure jobs more than doubled to 7.9% in 2020.

One field that may be contributing to the growth rate of high-paying jobs nationwide is tech: Software developers and computer and information systems managers — both of which have faster growth rates than most other professions — currently combine for more than 1.9 million high-paying jobs. But while fast-growing tech jobs and more specialized fields like law, health, or finance often get the attention, the most common six-figure profession is general and operations managers. More than 2.3 million U.S. workers fill this role, which is common in organizations of all types across the public and private sector, and it has a median annual income of $103,650.

Large Metros With the Most Growth in High-Paying Jobs

Winking woman with money
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In addition to being concentrated in certain fields, high-paying jobs are also geographically concentrated. Six-figure salaries are most common in coastal states including California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York, where the population tends to have greater educational attainment, cost of living is higher, and high-paying industries like tech, business, law, and health and life sciences are more prevalent. But even many parts of the country where these jobs are less common are seeing growth. Six-figure jobs more than tripled in Hawaii from 2015 to 2020, and 10 other states — mostly in the Mountain West and upper Midwest — had a growth rate for six-figure jobs of more than 100% over the same span. Many of these states are proving more attractive to employers and professionals seeking lower-cost locales.

To determine the locations with the largest growth in high-paying jobs, our researchers calculated the percentage change in employment in six-figure jobs from 2015 to 2020 using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs for 2020 was ranked higher. For the purpose of this analysis, employment in six-figure jobs was defined as total employment in occupations with a median annual wage of $100,000 or more.

The following are the large metros (population 1 million or more) with the largest growth in high-paying jobs.

15. Austin-Round Rock, TX

Austin, Texas
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +101.1%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 7.6%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 80,560
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 40,060
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $44,020

14. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

Louisville Kentucky
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +105.0%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 2.9%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 17,590
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 8,580
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $39,330

13. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA

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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +107.7%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 12.9%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 124,480
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 59,930
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $48,070

12. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +109.2%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 9.9%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 61,470
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 29,380
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $43,500

11. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +122.3%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 6.2%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 45,090
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 20,280
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $42,280

10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Aerial view of Portland with Mount Hood in the background.
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +124.7%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 10.1%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 115,080
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 51,220
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $48,050

9. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo, New York
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +143.0%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 5.0%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 24,590
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 10,120
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $42,040

8. Tucson, AZ

Tucson
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +156.2%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 3.7%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 13,730
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 5,360
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $38,900

7. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio at night.
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +163.0%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 5.7%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 56,780
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 21,590
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $37,920

6. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +175.2%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 4.2%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 21,630
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 7,860
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $39,430

5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Riverside, California at night
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +181.3%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 6.3%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 93,620
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 33,280
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $39,630

4. New Orleans-Metairie, LA

New Orleans, Louisiana at night
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +204.8%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 6.5%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 33,310
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 10,930
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $38,280

3. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

Las Vegas neighborhood with desert hills beyond.
Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +216.1%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 4.8%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 43,690
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 13,820
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $37,690

2. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +217.1%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 8.6%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 180,740
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 57,000
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $41,300

1. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

Nashville, Tennessee
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  • Percentage change in six-figure jobs (2015-2020): +270.9%
  • Percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 5.6%
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2020): 53,820
  • Total employment in six-figure jobs (2015): 14,510
  • Median annual wage across all occupations (2020): $40,650

Detailed Findings & Methodology

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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics tables. To determine the locations with the largest growth in high-paying jobs, researchers calculated the percentage change in employment in six-figure jobs from 2015 to 2020, and checked for statistical significance. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater percentage of total employment in six-figure jobs for 2020 was ranked higher. For the purpose of this analysis, employment in six-figure jobs was defined as total employment in occupations with a median annual wage of $100,000 or more. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).

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