Nov 26, 2012
Bill McMeekin
Bill McMeekin
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Weekly Wage Gains and State Tax Burdens

State tax climate

A couple of reports culled from among the turkey, stuffing and cranberries left over from Thanksgiving week:

A new analysis of  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on weekly wages shows some encouraging news. Wages are up in 83 of the top 102 U.S. metros, though outside of a few markets, the rate of the increases are not much to get excited about.

Overall, the the average weekly wage for a private sector worker in September 2012 was around $814, about 17 bucks better than a year earlier.

Palm Bay-Melbourne FL (13.2%), Austin TX (13%), Little Rock AR (11.4%) and Poughkeepsie NY (11.2%)  have the distinction of having wages that increased by more than 10 percent, though in the case of Palm Bay and Little Rock, the increases still don’t put them at the U.S. average.

On the other end of the range, the Bradenton FL metro saw average weekly wages drop by 9.3 percent, one of four metros (Norfolk-Virginia Beach VA, Youngstown OH and El Paso TX were the others) where wages fell by more than 5 percent from a year earlier.

The wage gains and losses can cut both ways. Some communities will note the increase in wages to demonstrate a strong economy and the buying power of its residents. Other communities will note their lower wage costs in comparison to the U.S. average as a competitive advantage.

No clear patterns emerge in the data for metros where average wages are falling. They run the gamut from major metros like Tampa-St. Petersburg and Dallas-Fort Worth to much smaller locales, like McAllen TX, and from every geographic region of the country, from Bakersfield CA to Springfield MA.


If you live in New York, you have the dubious honor of  having the nation’s heaviest state and local tax burden. The annual comparative rankings on local and state tax burdens from the Tax Foundation are out , based on the 2010 fiscal year. The rankings show New York (12.8%) , New Jersey (12.4%) and Connecticut (12.3%) with the highest levels of state and local taxes as a percentage of overall state income.

Overall, the U.S. average is 9.9 percent. Thirty-three states are at or below the U.S. average, led by these states, all with averages under 8 percent  (and none with the exception of Louisiana that have a state personal income tax):

* Alaska (7.0%)
* South Dakota (7.6%)
* Tennessee (7.7%)
* Louisiana (7.8%)
* Wyoming (7.8%)
* Texas (7.9%)

In their report, authors Elizabeth Malm and Gerald Prante note an increasing trend in local and state lawmakers levying taxes aimed specifically at nonresidents – and nonvoters in their jurisdiction.

“Many campaigns for tax-raising legislation in the last several years have explicitly advertised the ability to push the burden of a certain tax onto non-voting, nonresident payers as a reason for resident voters to accept the tax,” the authors noted.

What’s the tax environment in your community? Have policymakers in your region increased the use of taxes aimed at nonresidents? What impact do those taxes have on recruitment of businesses and workers? Share your thoughts.


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