Where You're Most Likely to Get a Pay Raise

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.

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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

Increase: 15%

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

Increase: 15%

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

Increase: 14%

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

Increase: 14%

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

Increase: 14%

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

Increase: 14%

7. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa

Median pay 2007: $46,000

Median Pay 2010: $51,90

Increase: 13%

8. Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Fla.

Median pay 2007: $45,800

Median pay 2010: $51,100

Increase: 12%

9. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa

Median pay 2007: $47,500

Median pay 2010: $53,000

Increase: 11%

10. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C.

Median pay 2007: $53,100

Median pay 2010: $59,200

Increase: 11%

11. Bakersfield, Calif.

Median pay 2007: $54,500

Median pay 2010: $60,400

Increase: 11%

12. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

Median pay 2007: $54,700

Median pay 2010: $60,100

Increase: 10%

13. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.

Median pay 2007: $52,500

Median pay 2010: $57,700

Increase: 10%

14. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.

Median pay 2007: $53,000

Median pay 2010: $58,200

Increase: 10%

15. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

Median pay 2007: $47,800

Median pay 2010: $52,500

Increase: 10%

Next: Are You Being Paid Fairly?

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell


Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.  Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets.  Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.

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I'm sure it's tough to live in Hawaii.. but it the Bradenton/Sarasota area it's tough as well. Tech jobs are about 20% below the national average. What type of jobs is the writer of this column thinking about ??????

May 30 2010 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

nothing says "I need attention" like a long rant full of caps.

May 30 2010 at 5:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

try the trucking industry you want to talk about getting screwed i have been doing the same job for the last 7 years and make less now than i did 7 years ago i started with a trucking company and heyl truck lines under bid the contract and got the contract told all the employs there salary would remain the same and even put it in writing the first year they gave us a 25.00 dollar raise and 2 years they cut our salary 50.00 dollars a week and tell us we are going to be on daily salary so know they work you 4 days twice as hard and only pay you 4 days so talk about getting screwed go to work for HEYL TRUCKING AND GET TREATED LIKE SHIT CHEAP BASTERDS

May 30 2010 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A 15% raise in the San Francisco area wouldn't even bring a person up to the poverty level. The atrocious cost of living is secondary only to NO JOBS AND NO AVAILABLE RENTAL HOUSING

May 30 2010 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article is a crock!!! The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most expensive areas to live in the U.S and there aren't any jobs for the people living here now!!!!!

May 29 2010 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The author is obviously a Politician, full of B.S.[not the educated kind], and trying to contain the whole country into cities.

May 29 2010 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rachel S

The article about Hawaii being an oppotunity to make more money is absurd! I have lived here for 27 years. The cost of living is astronomical, the job market is tough and even if you have a good job it's not enough to live on. The teacher and public schools have had 17 furlough days this year. The universities are struggling and have cut tons of programs.
Whoever wrote this article has very, very bad information.

May 29 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rooftop Voter

Seriously folks, who writes these articles and crunches the numbers to arrive at the inflated income figures?

May 27 2010 at 5:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Our sistah state is Las Vegas. You will find many of Honolulu's people living there. I can't believe AOL tried to pull this one off and expected all of Honolulu to be asleep.
HAHA. Lucky for AOL not too many Honolulu people have seen this bogus article. The comment section would be blasted with real facts. In other words for all of you who are looking for your slippahs a k a flip flops....better do some real home work on the facts before you move here. Aloha

May 27 2010 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

LOL I thought AOL was talking about the 35% pay raises the politicians got here last year. Research? No way! Whoever came up with this info never lived in Honolulu! I live here. Homeless is plenty, cost of living is far beyond the majority of peoples means. Cost of living, taxes, basic needs, food, is not even close to the pay. We are the highest taxed near everything state. We won't talk about corruption either. That's a whole other subject. It does have beautiful land and sea. It does have many wonderful people. But it does have a very dark side as well. Unless you plan on working at least 2 jobs and you know the right connections, you won't be here long. Those jobs are taken. Don't come here expecting to get top pay and great cost of anything. Oh and for those of you with kids. Be prepapred to either afford private school or you will have your child in school 4 days a week. It's called Furlough Fridays. A K A three day weekends for most state and city employees without the pay.
Guess AOL forgot about the massive people losing their homes due to lay offs and rip offs. Common AOL do your homework next time!

May 27 2010 at 4:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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