A reporter asks about salaries for professional occupations in Utah.
First, some facts:
Here is data on average salaries for some professional occupations in a few western metro areas. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics Survey. You can get to this data here.
Accountants and Auditors
SF Bay $72,340
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software
SF Bay $101,490
General and Operations Managers
SF Bay $123,850
SF Bay $130,370
Compensation and Benefits Managers
SF Bay $106,820
You can see that for the most part, salaries are lower than SF and Denver. But higher, mostly, than Phoenix.
I think there are a few reasons for this:
(1) Composition of employers. I think there may be fewer corporate headquarters here than in Denver and SF, so on average managers here may not be as high on the corporate ladder.
(2) Our area is quite differentiated. What I mean by this is that people tend to have strong opinions one way or the other about Utah. For many of us, there is no place else we’d want to live. For individuals who value the strong LDS community or the very easy access to skiing, there is almost nowhere else on earth that offers comparable amenities.
For others, the cultural conservatism of our area can be off-putting. Think here of a non-religious, wine connoiseur who doesn’t ski. For such individuals, our area might not be a good match.
What does this mean in terms of the labor market?
It means there is a set of workers that is going to live here even if wages are low. It is also means there’s a substantial set of workers who wouldn’t move here even if wages were much higher.
This means that local demographics matter a lot, or at least relatively more than in other parts of the country. If we have excess demand for managers, then wages will rise… but this increase in managerial wages won’t draw workers from around the country to the same extent as it would in a less differentiated region. Similarly, if we have excess supply, wages will fall, but this might not push workers out of Utah to the same extent as it would in other locales.
Interesting, the demographic trends in Utah are quite different from those in other states, due to high fertility rates and the like. Pam Perlich is the U’s expert on this stuff…. Maybe she’ll guest blog for me someday on this. (Are you out there Pam?)