Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Area Workers Earn Substantially Less Than National Average

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Area Workers Earn Substantially Less Than National Average

Article excerpt

Workers in the area around Topeka are taking home substantially less than the national average, though a relatively low cost of living may make up for some of that.

Residents of the Topeka metropolitan statistical area earned an average of $19.89 per hour, which was about 12 percent less than the national average of $22.71, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Topeka MSA includes Shawnee, Jackson, Jefferson, Osage and Wabaunsee counties. The most recent data was from May 2014.

Wages were lower than average for 19 out of 22 occupational categories, according to the BLS data. The difference wasn't statistically significant for one category, which was installation, maintenance and repair occupations. The only categories where Topeka- area workers earned more than average were production, which is primarily manufacturing, and farming, fishing and forestry.

Some of the largest gaps were for occupations requiring a relatively high level of skill or education. For example, people doing legal work in the Topeka area earned $32.12 on average, which was about 34 percent less than the nationwide average of $48.61. Workers also earned at least 20 percent less than the national average in computer and mathematical jobs; business and financial operations; architecture and engineering; and arts, design, entertainment, sports and media jobs.

Linda Nickisch, an economist with the BLS office in Kansas City, said the average wages are updated annually. Workers and students can use them to get an idea of what wage they might command in a particular field and a certain area, she said, while business owners can get an idea of what their competition might be paying.

The data doesn't go into why some people might earn more in different markets or attempt to evaluate whether workers in one area are better off based on their cost of living, Nickisch said. …

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