If you're thinking about moving for career purposes, you might want to grab your flip-flops and sunscreen, because one of the areas where you're most likely to get a raise is that tropical paradise we like to call Honolulu, Hawaii. Believe it or not, over the past three years that was one metropolitan area that experienced the highest pay growth -- a whopping 15 percent during these tough times. The median annual income went from $48,400 to $55,800, according to exclusive research done by AOL's Payscale.
Just in case you're like most of the rest of us and have forgotten the majority of what you learned in your statistics class, remember that "median" income refers to the fact that 50 percent of the population makes less, and 50 percent makes more.
Top 15 metropolitan areas with the highest pay growth:
1. Honolulu, Hawaii
There are a lot of specific industries based there that are relatively unaffected by the recession. For example, a common industry in Honolulu falls under the category of National Security and International Affairs. Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, as well as other various military bases are located in Honolulu. These fields are rarely affected by business fluctuations.
Another big industry in Honolulu that is relatively unaffected by the recession is Educational Services. Both the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hawaii Pacific University are located there, and together they employ more than 23,000 people. Students seeking higher education don't have many other alternatives on the island.
Median pay 2007: $48,400
Median pay 2010: $55,800
2. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pa.-N.J.
If you fear island fever, you don't have to move all the way to Hawaii to get a raise. The metropolitan area of Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton also had a 15 percent increase in median income over the past three years, from $51,100 to $58,700 per year. A big industry in that area is Health Care, another field that thrives in any economy. People always get sick. The largest employer in Allentown is Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, which employs 8,000 people.
Median pay 2007: $51,100
Median pay 2010: $58,700
3. El Paso, Texas
El Paso is also high on the median increase list at 14 percent, from $43,100 to $49,000 per year. As in Hawaii, El Paso features a large number of jobs in Educational Services and National Security and International Affairs. It's close to the border and is an important entry point into the United States from Mexico. Federal agencies are located in El Paso in order to deal with border issues, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). Common jobs in this industry include border guards, intelligence analysts, security consultants, and contract negotiators.
Median pay 2007: $43,100
Median pay 2010: $49,000
4. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.
Like El Paso, Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News had a 14 had increase in median increase (from $45,700 to $51,900) and it also features many jobs in the fields of National Security and International Affairs.
U.S. military bases such as the Naval Air Station Oceana, are some of the largest employers in Virginia Beach. Common jobs here include military officers, pilots, nuclear engineers, and intelligence analysts. These, however, are not jobs for the weak of heart, or for the uneducated.
Median pay 2007: $45,700
Median pay 2010: $51,900
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
Another area with 14 percent median income increases over the past three years was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (from $64,900 to $73,80), which has many jobs in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.
Median pay 2007: $64,900
Median pay 2010: $73,800
The rest of the list includes areas in the heartland, the South and the Southwest -- as well as in metropolitan areas along the East and West coasts.
6. Wichita, Kansas
Median pay 2007: $45,800
Median pay 2010: $52,000
7. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
Median pay 2007: $46,000Median Pay 2010: $51,90
8. Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Fla.
Median pay 2007: $45,800Median pay 2010: $51,100
9. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa
Median pay 2007: $47,500Median pay 2010: $53,000
10. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C.
Median pay 2007: $53,100Median pay 2010: $59,200
11. Bakersfield, Calif.
Median pay 2007: $54,500Median pay 2010: $60,400
12. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.
Median pay 2007: $54,700Median pay 2010: $60,100
13. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.
Median pay 2007: $52,500Median pay 2010: $57,700
14. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.
Median pay 2007: $53,000Median pay 2010: $58,200
15. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
Median pay 2007: $47,800Median pay 2010: $52,500