Counties Rank Low In Pay, Jobs

December 12, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kent County ended up 256th of 315 counties for job growth last year.

The bureau reported that the number of jobs in Kent fell by 1.6 percent last year, while the average weekly wage rose by 2.6 percent over that period to $682 a week. Kent ranked 139th for wage growth.

Those findings come from a comparative county-by-county look at the growth of jobs and wages in the nation’s 315 largest counties from March 2002 to March 2003.

Ottawa County fared a bit better than Kent did, finishing at 228th in job growth and 69th in wage growth. Ottawa lost 1.2 percent of its jobs, but its average weekly wage rose by 3.4 percent to $638.

Macomb County had the highest rank of the 10 Michigan counties in the comparison. Macomb stood at 167th for job growth and was fourth for wage growth.

Placer County in California led the nation in job growth, as its total employment jumped by 4.9 percent over the period. The service sector was mostly responsible for the job gain.

New ski resorts, new hospitals and the opening of the nation’s fourth-largest casino helped boost the employment numbers. A growing retirement community also contributed to better the job figure.

Placer County is located in the foothills between Sacramento and North Lake Tahoe.

Other counties that had at least a 4 percent growth in jobs were Lee, Fla.; St. Charles, Mo.; Rutherford, Tenn.; Pinellas, Fla.; Thurston, Wash.; and Riverside, Calif.

Marin, Calif., had the largest average weekly wage growth of the 315 counties at 10.7 percent. Galveston, Texas, was next with 7.4 percent, and Providence, R.I., finished third at 7.3 percent.

New York County had the highest average weekly wage at $1,648. Fairfield, Conn., was next at $1,299 and Somerset, N.J., followed at $1,238.

Job growth for the entire U.S. was down three-tenths of a percent for the 12-month period, while wages rose only by 1.9 percent on average. Still, the average weekly wage for the country was $729, higher than the comparable figures for Kent and Ottawa counties.

In addition, Kent and Ottawa had the lowest average weekly wages of the 10 Michigan counties in the national comparison.    

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