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Old 01-10-2016, 07:43 AM
 
24 posts, read 24,667 times
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From the Grand Rapids Business Journal

"Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area employees are among the worst-compensated workers in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, according to the compensation data site Payscale. The site looked at early career, mid-career and median pay for employees who hold at least a bachelor’s degree"

"Grand Rapids is the 69th largest metro area, according to the data, but comes in at 93rd on the pay scale, according to a Forbes/PayScale Report"

Grand Rapids lands near bottom of national pay scale | 2016-01-06 | Grand Rapids Business Journal

Forbes Welcome
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Old 01-10-2016, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Louisville
4,384 posts, read 4,174,374 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infrastructurist View Post
From the Grand Rapids Business Journal

"Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area employees are among the worst-compensated workers in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, according to the compensation data site Payscale. The site looked at early career, mid-career and median pay for employees who hold at least a bachelor’s degree"

"Grand Rapids is the 69th largest metro area, according to the data, but comes in at 93rd on the pay scale, according to a Forbes/PayScale Report"

Grand Rapids lands near bottom of national pay scale | 2016-01-06 | Grand Rapids Business Journal

Forbes Welcome
"Grand Rapids area" employees are not among the worse compensated. It is more of a myth about GR's metro incomes being so low. From the start of this study I can poke holes in it. This is old data whoever did this study used data that's 3-5 years old at least. Currently Grand Rapids is the 52nd largest metro area, it WAS the 69th largest metro area before the 2013 metro reallingment. These old statistics used to create this fake economic malaise also included Newaygo, Montcalm, Barry, and Ionia counties which are not part of the "Grand Rapids area". Those are rural lower income counties, that have an average income noticeably smaller (as all rural counties in every state do) than Kent County, and create an artificially lower statistic.

Currently the two core counties which make up the "Grand Rapids area" are Kent County (avg income $51,667) and Ottawa County (avg income $56,453) which is the 3rd highest median income in the state after Oakland and Washtenaw Counties. If you take out these rural factors and look at what people in the actual "Grand Rapids area" make you're dealing with a statistic that is much more middle of the road.

Link to the census quick facts website:
Michigan QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau

Link for metro area populations:
American FactFinder - Results

I'm also including this link to a discussion that happened in the General US forum which discussed average hourly wages among million person metro areas where GR was on the lower side but more in the middle. Definitely NOT in the bottom 10 metro areas for income.

Average Hourly Wages For Million Person Metros Through 10/15

Last edited by mjlo; 01-10-2016 at 03:54 PM..
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Old 01-10-2016, 06:51 PM
 
24 posts, read 24,667 times
Reputation: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjlo View Post
These old statistics used to create this fake economic malaise also included Newaygo, Montcalm, Barry, and Ionia counties which are not part of the "Grand Rapids area". Those are rural lower income counties, that have an average income noticeably smaller (as all rural counties in every state do) than Kent County, and create an artificially lower statistic.
If you had read the article, you would see that the study does not include all jobs, just "good" jobs ("early career, mid-career, median pay for employees who hold at least a bachelor’s degree"), which filters out the low income people/areas you are concerned about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjlo View Post
Currently the two core counties which make up the "Grand Rapids area" are Kent County (avg income $51,667)
Right. If you had read the article, you would see they agree with you (you claim $51,667, the report claims $52,900). That income *is* the income that ranks in the bottom 10 of the top 100 metros.

---

I get that GRBJ made a mistake by forgetting to include Muskegon as Grand Rapids in the MSA rank - you are correct about that. But that doesn't mean the report is wrong, just that the GRBJ made a mistake summarizing it.
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:48 PM
 
Location: Louisville
4,384 posts, read 4,174,374 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infrastructurist View Post
If you had read the article, you would see that the study does not include all jobs, just "good" jobs ("early career, mid-career, median pay for employees who hold at least a bachelor’s degree"), which filters out the low income people/areas you are concerned about.
I read the article, the study uses the 2003 MSA alignments where Grand Rapids metro was the 69th largest in the country. It cuts out the more educated higher earning western suburbs in Ottawa County, and adds in 4 under educated lower earning counties to the east. This means it only looked at the populations of Kent, Newaygo, Montcalm, Barry, and Ionia counties. The 2003 MSA designations were terrible. They cut out a third of the urban area and statistically included cities like Portland 20 miles from Lansing as part of the GR MSA. In 2013 the bls realigned it to the more realistic one it is now, (52nd largest metro).

The wage threshold in rural counties is lower for all positions including the educated positions referenced in this study. A mechanical engineer in rural Ionia or Newaygo will make $57,000, while the same position in urban Grand Rapids will make in the 70's. You're also saying a teacher in Carson City(statistically considered part of metro grand rapids according to this alignment) is an apples to apples comparison to the salary of a teacher in Rockford or Forrest Hills. The over inclusion of a disproportionately high rural population is diluting this statistic. That's not even considering the fact that the metro alignment used as a reference point is obsolete. I think it's fair to say the wages in a largely rural city 40 miles away are not an accurate reflection of the wage situation in Grand Rapids in and it's immediate suburbs.

Quote:
I get that GRBJ made a mistake by forgetting to include Muskegon as Grand Rapids in the MSA rank - you are correct about that. But that doesn't mean the report is wrong, just that the GRBJ made a mistake summarizing it.
Muskegon is not considered part of the Grand Rapids MSA by the bls, it is still independent. The current alignment is Kent, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Barry counties.

The fault of the GRBJ is not it's exclusion of Muskegon. The GRBJ did not perform this study, it was a copy and paste share from a Forbes article that was reporting a study done by payscale.com. Someone sitting at desk in New York or California doing a 30k ft view study is not going to fact check themselves about the proper population stats of a place like GR that they have never heard of. They are not going to take into account that the "Metropolitan Area" they are using was created by the Census Bureau using commuting patterns. They have no clue that they are including people who live in some cases almost 70 miles away from the core city, while excluding some residents within it's immediate urban area. Please tell me how you can pull any intellectual honesty about wages in the GR metro area when someone from tiny Sheridan is included in the study, but someone in Georgetown township is not?

As a local news source the GRBJ should have the instincts to recognize pretty quickly that the study they were referencing didn't even have Grand Rapids metropolitan population correct. That is becoming increasingly more common in this areas media output. Grand Rapids and it's metro area definitely has some ground to make up when it comes to wages in comparison to peer cities, i'm not trying to dispute that. If that study were done using the current alignment the outcome would be different. You would still find Grand Rapids in the lower half, but you wouldn't find it in the bottom 10. I'd put money on it.

Last edited by mjlo; 01-11-2016 at 05:34 AM..
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:50 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
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I always felt that it was better to use the county level data when looking at wages, not the MSA. Forgetting about articles for a minute, you can go directly to the source:

County Employment and Wages in Michigan ? Fourth Quarter 2014 : Midwest Information Office : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The State average per county is $984/week and Kent County is $909/week. Keep in mind too that the BLS only tracks "payroll" of employers, so any self-employed individuals would be excluded from any of these studies (from what I understand).

It does show that Kent County, MI is lagging, as is Ottawa County. But I pin that mainly on the low union membership levels here. Ingham County, for instance, is higher because (I believe) that the State of Michigan is the largest employer, which pays its people higher than average wages, and GM is a very large employer with over 5000 workers and is almost completely unionized.

There are some strategies being kicked around in West Michigan to get the wages up, and Birgit Klohs has become a big proponent of raising local wages, as it is now impeding our labor supply.

Low wages are major impediment to labor supply | 2015-01-16 | Grand Rapids Business Journal
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:10 AM
 
203 posts, read 335,419 times
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How do the numbers look when adjusted for the cost of living?

Also, how do the numbers look for workers in the same job category? For example, the article lists the median pay in "San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA" as $105,600. But this region is dominated by technology jobs which would pay well anywhere. Conversely, someone who works in a semi-skilled manufacturing position wouldn't be paid well even if they were working in California or New Jersey.

Besides, it's not clear that $105,600 in Silicon Valley is actually better than $52,900 in West Michigan. Not even if you simply look at how far the money goes and disregard the substantial difference in the qualify of life.

Looking at career workers is interesting because it filters out underpaid blue-collar employees. The article states, "Early career workers in the area have a median pay of $44,200..." Is that enough to live like an adult, with a car and no roommates, in West Michigan? In expensive cities, early career workers typically live with roommates and without cars and still just get by.

The article then states, "...mid-career earners are making $76,400." Is that enough to buy a single-family home and raise a family in West Michigan? In expensive cities, it's hard for even mid-career workers to buy homes and support families.
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:29 AM
 
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105,600 in Silicon Valley is nearly a roommate-required situation. Studios go for 3k+. They're starting to go for more.

52,900 in West Michigan is comfortable living.

I actually have a unique perspective on this, because I've recently lived in both.

I made a hair over $80k/year in Grand Rapids and could live in one of the nicer parts of town in a decent house(recently renovated 2500sq ft house in EGR). Of course, things have changed in house pricing, not sure I could afford that today.

One of my friends and his wife make a combined 40k/year and have nice house in Alpine. Again, not possible in many parts of the US.

I make about $130k/year here in San Francisco and can only afford a 2 bedroom apartment. To buy a house I would need to nearly double my income. Even homes in terrible sections are selling for close to a million.

Let's just hope GR keeps the COL low!
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Old 02-04-2016, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,885 posts, read 18,154,688 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lockdev View Post
105,600 in Silicon Valley is nearly a roommate-required situation. Studios go for 3k+. They're starting to go for more.

52,900 in West Michigan is comfortable living.

I actually have a unique perspective on this, because I've recently lived in both.

I made a hair over $80k/year in Grand Rapids and could live in one of the nicer parts of town in a decent house(recently renovated 2500sq ft house in EGR). Of course, things have changed in house pricing, not sure I could afford that today.

One of my friends and his wife make a combined 40k/year and have nice house in Alpine. Again, not possible in many parts of the US.

I make about $130k/year here in San Francisco and can only afford a 2 bedroom apartment. To buy a house I would need to nearly double my income. Even homes in terrible sections are selling for close to a million.

Let's just hope GR keeps the COL low!
That's a good comparison. I do enjoy watching Flip or Flop on HGTV. With them being based in California, it's unbelievable what the homes go for. And I see the young families that come to their open houses and I can't fathom how can they afford the payment on an $800,000 home, unless they're using funky financing.

West Michigan is mostly a place to "settle down." Sure there are a lot of single people here but single people don't generally move to a place like WM to live a party life. Not when Chicago is so close by.

If you take a typical professional couple here without kids yet (one is an engineer, the other works at Spectrum, lol), in their mid to late 20's, they're probably pulling down at least $80,000/year. Figure 36% of gross pay is $2400/month that they can have in recurring debt. If they haven't gotten into financial trouble, they probably have $1200/month in car loans, student loans and credit cards. That leaves $1200/month for a mortgage. At today's rates still hovering around 4.0%, figuring 10% down on a house, they can go up to around $200,000.

That would get you a nice home just outside of EGR:
GRAR

A 930 sf condo at the Boardwalk:
GRAR

If you like old homes in the city:
GRAR
(that one surprises me that it's that high)

If you want a new house in the city:
GRAR

If you want "good schools" and like older homes, Forest Hills:
GRAR

If you're single and/or don't make $80,000/year, then you'd have to look at other areas (Alger Heights, Riverside Park, Creston/Cheshire Village, Wyoming, Caledonia, Cedar Springs, Lowell).
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Old 02-04-2016, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,885 posts, read 18,154,688 times
Reputation: 3893
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAmEverywhere View Post
How do the numbers look when adjusted for the cost of living?

Also, how do the numbers look for workers in the same job category? For example, the article lists the median pay in "San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA" as $105,600. But this region is dominated by technology jobs which would pay well anywhere. Conversely, someone who works in a semi-skilled manufacturing position wouldn't be paid well even if they were working in California or New Jersey.

Besides, it's not clear that $105,600 in Silicon Valley is actually better than $52,900 in West Michigan. Not even if you simply look at how far the money goes and disregard the substantial difference in the qualify of life.

Looking at career workers is interesting because it filters out underpaid blue-collar employees. The article states, "Early career workers in the area have a median pay of $44,200..." Is that enough to live like an adult, with a car and no roommates, in West Michigan? In expensive cities, early career workers typically live with roommates and without cars and still just get by.

The article then states, "...mid-career earners are making $76,400." Is that enough to buy a single-family home and raise a family in West Michigan? In expensive cities, it's hard for even mid-career workers to buy homes and support families.
If you really want to dig into wages, here's the most recent report from BLS:

Occupational Employment and Wages in Grand Rapids-Wyoming ? May 2014 : Midwest Information Office : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Here's a comparison for engineering occupations:

Occupational Employment and Wages For Selected Engineering Occupations in Michigan’s Metropolitan Areas ? May 2014 : Midwest Information Office : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Old 03-14-2016, 09:50 PM
 
1,109 posts, read 1,347,318 times
Reputation: 1220
Quote:
Originally Posted by infrastructurist View Post
From the Grand Rapids Business Journal

"Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area employees are among the worst-compensated workers in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, according to the compensation data site Payscale. The site looked at early career, mid-career and median pay for employees who hold at least a bachelor’s degree"

"Grand Rapids is the 69th largest metro area, according to the data, but comes in at 93rd on the pay scale, according to a Forbes/PayScale Report"

Grand Rapids lands near bottom of national pay scale | 2016-01-06 | Grand Rapids Business Journal

Forbes Welcome
Grand Rapids still has affordable communities around it, right? So a lower cost of living means you don't have to have as high of a salary.

At any rate, it's all a matter of perspective. You likely wouldn't move from LA or NYC to Grand Rapids, but you'd definitely move from BFE/nowhere to Grand Rapids and enjoy that money. I just did a quick glance around on Indeed and jobs that exist in both my small hometown region and Grand Rapids pay about $6 an hour more in Grand Rapids. Maybe it's different among the top tier professional jobs, but at that point, I don't know if I'd care about a difference of a few thousand or ten thousand if I'm making hundreds of thousands.
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