Pay differences: Same job, 10 different cities

Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

Here's what you might earn in jobs that pay annual salaries of $60,000 and $90,000.

The cost of living and the cost of labor vary from city to city, so it's no surprise that a company may pay different amounts for the same position depending on where it's located.

For example, a job for which the national median pay is $60,000 (including bonus) likely will pay closer to $73,000 in San Francisco and $59,000 in Milwaukee, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting's latest geographic salary differentials survey.

A job with a national median salary of $90,000, meanwhile, could pay as much as $102,000 in New York and a little over $88,000 in Denver.

To conduct its survey, Mercer researchers considered a group of different positions that each had the same national median pay (e.g., $60,000 for senior accountants, programmers and buyers). They then looked to see what the local median pay is for those positions in more than 200 cities.

National median $60,000 $90,000
San Francisco $72,720 $100,890
New York $71,100 $102,060
Los Angeles $66,060 $96,390
Chicago $65,100 $94,680
Wash., D.C. $63,540 $94,590
Houston $62,640 $90,720
Denver $61,920 $88,200
Atlanta $61,860 $91,350
Miami $60,960 $88,560
Milwaukee $59,040 $89,100
Source:Mercer Human Resource Consulting

Of course, in theory, a higher salary in one city may be expected to afford the job-holder the same quality of life as she could expect in the same position in a less expensive city. But it often doesn't due to the effect of taxes and local inflation rates.

New York is the clearest example. To afford a lifestyle that $100,000 can buy you in lower cost cities, you'd need to earn well over $200,000. (See more.)

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