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Atlanta Ranks 31st in Private-Sector Salaries

Glimmering Atlanta skyline at sunset.

Atlanta ranks 31st in private-sector salaries compared to other major cities.

Atlanta’s position on the list is decent, above average, but the margin of difference between the city and the top-earners on the list is considerable.

A major component of Atlanta’s allure other than salary is, no doubt, attributable to the number and visibility of high-profile entertainment, sports personalities and other celebrities calling Atlanta home for its relatively low cost of living and relatively high quality of living, but the gloss is not significantly elevating the earning ability of the average Atlanta worker.

The average pay for metro Atlanta’s private-sector workers is $47,500, ranking it 31st in the nation for pay, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2010.

The Big Peach’s 129,166 businesses have a $95.2 billion annual payroll, ranking it No. 10 on a list that compares pay levels for 938 U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas.

Paychecks are bigger in the San Jose area than anywhere else in the country — and the gap is quite large.

High salaries for Silicon Valley administrators, engineers and technicians have pushed the average pay for San Jose’s private-sector workers to $85,100. That’s 11 percent above the runner-up, Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn., where the pay per employee is $76,700.

Just two other markets have average pay levels above $60,000: San Francisco-Oakland at $64,800 and New York City at $63,400.

The Business Journals’ On Numbers analyzed the 2010 data, the latest year for which official figures are available. Average pay, which is not directly reported by the bureau, was calculated by dividing each area’s total private-sector payroll by its number of employees.

The four top-rated markets in the current study are the same as a year ago, when San Jose posted a nation-leading average of $75,800 per worker.

Private-sector payrolls in the 938 markets totaled $4.70 trillion in 2010, yielding an average of $44,700 per employee.







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