What matters isn’t the number on the paycheck, it’s how far it will stretch.
That is, when it comes to the actual purchasing power of your average metro paycheck, Atlanta does very well: Among large metros, we are number two.
An average paycheck goes further only in Detroit.
That assessment depends on a comparison of the amount that people are paid and the cost of living. That means, some places with smaller paychecks let its workers buy an awful lot more than places where the pay looks better.
For example, Atlanta’s average salary translates to $80,271 once its costs are figured in. New York, where workers on average are paid about 9 percent more, has an effective salary of just $69,295 a year, according to a study by Jed Kolko, chief economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, a project of Indeed, the online jobs site.
Mix in the more modestly-sized metros and the best bang for the buck is in Birmingham, where a paycheck slightly smaller than Atlanta buys more, he calculated: Birmingham’s adjusted paycheck is $86,196.
The weakest paychecks are in Honolulu, where the average salary has an actual buying power of a mere $59,882, Kolko said.
After that, the cities toughest to make ends meet are Tucson, Miami, New York and Thousand Oaks, Calif., about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.
Where salaries go the furthest, among big metros:
- San Francisco
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AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:
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