When it comes to cities with high-paying jobs, one state dominates — but there’s a big catch

More California residents may be eyeing the exit, but a new list of America’s best-paying cities suggests they could be leaving behind cities that are teeming with well-compensated jobs.

Golden State cities made up half of the top 10 best-paying cities in U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 ranking of cities with well-paying jobs. In the top 20, they accounted for 11 spots.  

San Francisco, at the heart of the tech industry, topped the list with 88 jobs for which the pay is among the highest in the country, while nearby San Jose came in second with 75 jobs at that same level. Vallejo, another Bay Area city, had 29 professions, while Salinas, farther to the south, came in with 28 jobs. Los Angeles rounded out the top 10 best paying cities with 20 jobs.

U.S. News and World Report released the list Tuesday after
reviewing Bureau of Labor Statistics salary data information on a variety of
professions and then tallying up which cities have the most jobs associated
with them.

The list isn’t saying these cities pay the very most for these roles; instead, it is saying they are among the top five locations paying most on average for a certain line of work.

The best-paying cities list comes along with separate rankings on the best jobs overall, weighing pay, future prospects and other factors. This year, physician assistant topped the list of best jobs for 2021, with a median salary of $112,260 and a master’s degree required.

While heavy on jobs oriented towards the tech-industry and other white-collar work, the jobs in these cities span a range of work. A San Francisco nurse practitioner can make $157,150 on average, while a high school teacher makes an average $93,350 and a plumber can pull in $87,230, according to the list.  

Of course, physical locations for work in 2021 and beyond might not mean the same thing it once did. After nearly a year of experience working remotely, some workers may find that their jobs are less tied to a physical office or have been cut altogether.

Bear in mind the list does include some jobs’ average salaries that are $50,000 and below — which could be difficult to live on in high-cost places like San Francisco. For example, the list includes a teacher assistant, which has a $38,030 average salary.

Actually, people working in jobs higher up the income ladder might also find it too pricey to live in California, with its high costs of living and relatively higher state-level income taxes.

Opinion: How California can stop the Big Tech stampede from Silicon Valley

The most populous state’s head count grew to 39.78 million people as of July 2020, but the net addition of 21,200 people was a record-low rate, the California Department of Finance said last month.

The 0.05 growth rate — a decrease from 0.23 in the previous 12 months — happened because of declining birth rate, more deaths during the still-surging pandemic and departures from the state.

Even before 2020, many California residents were leaving the state, with housing costs factoring into the push.

California may be the location for a bevy of jobs, but real estate data looking into this year suggests it’s also going to be a hot housing market (which won’t do much to crimp living costs).

Four the top 10 housing markets for 2021, based on projected home sales and price growth, are in California. San Jose came in the No. 2 spot on the Realtor.com list, just as it did in U.S. News and World Report’s list.

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