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Santa Cruz among top 10 list of cities with plunging wages

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

July 16, 2013|By Shan Li

Two cities in Alabama have earned the dubious distinction of taking the top spot for American places with plunging wages.

Anniston and Oxford in northeast Alabama have suffered a 2.4% drop in wages over the past year, with a weekly salary now clocking in at $743, according to a report from 24/7 Wall Street. The region has keenly felt the aftershocks of sequestration, which has prompted the public sector to shed jobs.

Only one California city ranked in the top 10: Santa Cruz. At No. 10, the coastal city saw average wages drop 0.8% in the last year. Average pay was $849 a week.

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Although employment in Santa Cruz grew by nearly 8% last year, much of the job growth was in low-wage industries such as leisure and hospitality, which grew 11.7% over the same period. Sectors that garner higher pay grew much slower.

As the economy recovers, much debate has centered on the quality of jobs. Some economists worry that companies, by now used to tightening costs, are resorting increasingly to cheaper part-time and temporary workers.

Much of the recent gains in jobs have also been in sectors dominated by low-paid or minimum wage workers. Many of those who have been unemployed for months or years are accepting jobs that pay far lower than what they expect based on experience and education.

Some of the cities, such a the Kennewick-Richland-Pasco metro area of Washington (No. 6), suffered a decline in high-wage jobs in areas such as businesss and professional services.

Below are the cities in the top 10

1. Anniston-Oxford, Ala.

2. Rocky Mount, N.C.

3. Elizabethtown, Ky.

4. Atlantic City, N.J.

5. Flint, Mich.

6. Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash.

7. Las Cruces, N.M.

8. Ocean City, N.J.

9. Sandusky, Ohio

10. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.

[For the record, 2:10 p.m. July 16: A previous version of this post stated incorrectly that the average monthly wage in Santa Cruz, Calif., was $849. That is the average weekly wage.]


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