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Metro Charleston lags in tech pay

Posted on April 30, 2014 by in Jobs & Economy

Metro Charleston tech salaries compared, USE, ranked, 2013High-tech salaries in Metro Charleston are significantly below those in the “knowledge” economies of Raleigh and Austin, TX, and even trail U.S. medians.

Salary gaps range from 15% to 30% and, depending on the particular jobs category, even higher. Metro Charleston, which aspires to become a knowledge economy, does pay the highest for web developers, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that’s current to May 2013  (See comparative table above and more extensive table here.)

Cost of living is slightly higher in Metro Charleston than in Raleigh and  lower than in Austin. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the price parity index for the Charleston region is 97.2 on a scale where 100 is the national mean. In Raleigh, the PPI is 96.7% and in Austin it’s 99.4%. PPI’s measure how far a dollar goes from region to region, particularly in big-ticket items like housing.

With its lower tech pay, Charleston can be competitively more attractive to companies looking to relocate. Boeing, for example, is developing a technology center for manufacturing in North Charleston, where it has already created 6,100 jobs for mechanics and other workers who assemble the 787 Dreamliner.

Charleston 5th nationally in high-tech job growthCharleston is the fifth fastest growing region in tech jobs, according to 2010-2011 data from the Bay Area Council in San Francisco (chart at left).

On the other hand, Metro Charleston, which has a high level of in[-migration for job seekers, may not be able to compete as effectively for high-level technologists, like computer and systems information managers who are making $122,900 in in Raleigh and $135,540 in Austin) compared to $106,150 locally.

Dr. Tara Sinclair, economist for the Indeed employment service and a professor of economics at George Washington University in Washington, DC, told Local America Charleston:

“Charleston has a large young start-up community. Young businesses like this often do not have high salaries, as the payoff can come later for individuals who are employed at start-ups.

“From  Bureau of Labor Statistics data, it does seem that there is a supply of talent in Charleston willing to take lower salaries than other cities like Raleigh and Austin. However, from an economic perspective, if Charleston wants to compete long-term with Raleigh and Austin for talent in open positions, companies will have to raise their salaries or find other benefits to offer to attract top talent.”



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