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A Snapshot on the Nature of Work and Poverty in the Two Biggest States

A Snapshot on the Nature of Work and Poverty in the Two Biggest States

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics updated many of their figures in the past week.

Here’s some interesting numbers regarding average hours worked and average weekly earnings: 

–$1,394 was the average for weekly earnings in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region in January 2014, aka, Silicon Valley, the highest paying region in California. 

–$379 is what folks in El Centro, California took home in January, 2014. 

–So, for every dollar folks make in El Centro (akin to Texas’ Rio Grande Valley region), Silicon Valley makes $3.68.  This is an example of what some people have taken of late to calling “income disparity” or “income inequality.” 

–Texas’ best compensated region is Midland, where average weekly earnings topped $1,023 in January 2014. 

–Meanwhile, workers in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission took home an average of $467 per week. 

–So, for every dollar folks make in the Rio Grande Valley region, Midland makes $2.19.  

–As for hours worked, Beaumont-Port Arthur works the hardest in Texas, at 42.8 hours per week, followed by Odessa at 41.8, then Midland at 40.7 then Victoria at 39.6.

–McAllen-Edinburg-Mission works the fewest hours at 32.6. 

–The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that workers who produce stuff work more hours on average than workers who provide services. 

–In California, Bakersfield-Delano, the Golden State’s oil patch, works the longest weekly hours at 36.4. 

–El Centro, California works the fewest hours at 26.0.  26 hours…  And, that’s for people lucky enough to have a job. The official unemployment rate there was 22.5% in December, 2013. 

–The official unemployment rate in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission was 10.4%;in December, 2013. 

–The unemployment rate in Midland, Texas was 2.8% in December.

By the way, before thinking Silicon Valley workers have it easy, compare the cost of living between San Jose and Midland. According to Bankrate.com’s handy cost of living calculator (based on ACCRA and U.S. Census Bureau data), an average worker in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara would have to pull down $1,572 per week to reach a standard of living that can be earned on Midland’s average weekly salary of $1,023. That’s because the cost of living in Silicon Valley is 54% more costly–meaning workers in Silicon Valley would have to earn an additional $178 more per week on top of their $1,572, about 11% more, to be able to afford the same amount of goods and services as their Texas counterparts in Midland. 

No wonder California’s true poverty rate is some 45% higher on a per capita basis than is Texas’.

The Hon. Chuck DeVore is the Vice President of Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @chuckdevore


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