(The Center Square) – New employment data compiled by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) shows the highest average salaries and hourly wages are found in the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.
A ranking of the average salary and hourly wage for all of Missouri’s 114 counties and the city of St. Louis was released earlier this month. It analyzed 2020 total wages for all industries and also broke down the rankings by privately owned companies. The average annual salary in the state is $54,001 and the average hourly wage is $25.96.
The St. Louis and Kansas City regions ranked highest for annual salaries and hourly wages. The city of St. Louis was first with annual salaries averaging $66,761 and hourly wages at $32.10.
St. Louis had a total population of 300,576 and a labor force of 151,250 in 2019. Its unemployment rate was 6.3% in April. About 41% of the population has an associate degree or higher.
MERIC defines the St. Louis region as St. Louis city and county along with St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties. About 39% of Missouri’s workforce resides in this region. Health care, higher education, manufacturing and financial services are the top employment areas.
MERIC defines the Kansas City region as five counties – Jackson, Platte, Clay, Cass and Ray. The region accounts for about 20% of Missouri’s employment. Health care, social assistance and retail trade are the largest industries in the region.
Counties with the lowest salaries and wages are located on the opposite corners of the state. Ripley County, on the Arkansas border in the southeast corner of the state, was last in the annual earnings and hourly wage rankings. It had a total population of 13,288 in 2019 and a labor force of 5,100. Its unemployment rate was 5.4% in April. Approximately 18% of the population has an associate degree or higher.
Worth County, bordering Iowa in the northwest corner of the state, followed in the rankings. Its total population was 2,013 and its labor force was 1,160. Its unemployment rate was 2.8% in April and one in four have an associate degree or higher.
MERIC gathered information from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, a cooperative program between the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, to compile the rankings.