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Economy

Wages Are Higher in Urban Areas, But Growing Faster in Rural Ones

The picture of wages and salaries across the U.S. is not a simple one of urban success versus rural decline.
A job fair in Williston, North Dakota, in 2015.
A job fair in Williston, North Dakota, in 2015.Andrew Cullen/Reuters

This is the fourth in a series of posts that explore the myths and realities of America’s urban-rural divide. This week we focus on trends in wages and salaries across urban and rural places. For an overview of the series and the data and methodology we use, see the first post in this series.

Wages are a key indicator of the productivity and affluence of cities and regions. There is no doubt that wage and salary levels, as well as their growth, have been widely uneven across American communities, with some winners and many losers. But the pattern does not conform to the simple notion of urban success and rural decline.