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The New Geography of Jobs – What You Make Depends on Where You Live

June 6th, 2012

Last month I did a post on the variation in demand for real estate photography because I’ve been trying to understand what factors are drive the fact that in some geographic locations the demand for real estate photography to market homes is just higher in some locations.

This new book I’ve discovered by U.C. Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti provides an interesting perspective on what the underlying drivers are for the geography of jobs and where the best locations are for jobs. And the geographic locations that Moretti highlights match up fairly close to the locations agents appear more willing to pay a reasonable price for real estate photography.

The primary underlying factor according to Moretti’s data (taken from census info) is the number of college graduates. There appear to be centers of innovation that attract more college graduates. And if you live in one of these centers of innovation you make more money, even if you aren’t a college graduate. Even street people make more in these locations! It turns out that what you make has more to do with where you live than what on your resume.

The top 20 metro areas in order are: Stamford CT, Washington DC, Boston MA, Madison WI, San jose CA, Ann Arbor MI, Raleigh-Durham NC, San Francisco-Oakland CA, Fort Collins-Loveland CO, Seattle-Everett WA, Trenton NJ, Lexington-Fayette KY, Austin TX, Portland OR, Minneapolis-St Paul MN, Denver-Boulder CO, New York-Northeastern NJ, Lincoln, NE, Santa Cruz CA, Tallahassee FL, Worcester MA.

I find this analysis quite compelling. The book lists the top 20 and bottom 20 locations of 306 cities in the US. If you are thinking about relocating you need to read this book.

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3 Responses to “The New Geography of Jobs – What You Make Depends on Where You Live”

  • Salary is relative to cost-of-living though, right? Some places are much more expensive than others. Did he compare cost-of-living in those geographies vs salaries?

  • @Alan- Absolutely cost of living is higher in these centers of inovation but in the long run cost of living is not that significant compared to the effect he’s talking about.

    For example, a college graduate in Boston makes 75% more than the salary of a similar worker in Flint, MI and the average worker with just a high school education living in Boston makes 44% more than a college graduate in Flint.

  • Very interesting book.
    I don’t known if it is not significant…
    http://www.bestplaces.net/col/?salary=100000&city1=52629000&city2=52507000

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