Wage Series Part 9: Does Geographic Location Matter?

By Jim Cline and Kate Kremer

In the previous two articles in this wage series, we discussed the extent to which population and assessed valuation correlated with wage rankings. In this article, we discussed geographic location and the effect of various labor markets on public safety wages.

Using city police, as an example, it becomes clear the extent to which proximity to the Seattle area labor market affects wages. The geographical area defined as the Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA) consists of a large urbanized county, or in the case of the Seattle PMSA a cluster of counties, that show strong internal economic and social links and a population of one million or more. www2.census.gov The Seattle PMSA includes King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap and Island Counties. This region, when separated from the remainder of Western Washington, shows an increased wage differential.

In the below graphic the Seattle PMSA is shown in blue and is 15% more than the remainder of the Western cities and 25% over the Eastern cities’ 25 year BA wages.

Just looking at East versus West also shows a difference in wages:

This geographic influence is not unique to Police Officers. A significant East/West differential can be seen for other positions. Below are the East/West Corrections Officers average 25 year BA wages for all City and County positions:

In interest arbitration proceedings, there is often a great deal of discussion about “labor markets” and how those markets affect the selection of appropriate “comparables.” Data of the type reported and revealed by these tables, provide a depiction of those labor market factors that could come into play in the selection of your comparables. Clearly, when it comes to wages, geographic location does matter.

As with other wage data discussed in these series, we have posted various local market 2016 Wage Maps on our premium website for the review of premium website subscribers. If you’re not currently a Premium Website subscriber you can review our services Cline and Casillas Premium Information Services and contact Karla Rava at Cline and Casillas and she’ll explain how you can become one.