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TheStreet Open House

5 Cities Where the Paychecks Are Smallest

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The U.S. Labor Department recently found that more Americans quit their jobs during October than in any other month since 2008's crash, but here's a look at five cities you shouldn't move to if you're seeking generous pay.

"These cities all tend to be smaller metros, whereas the big earnings premiums for workers tend to be in the larger cities like New York, Boston or Chicago," says Jed Kolko of real-estate site Trulia.com, which recently analyzed pay levels in America's 100 most-populous communities.

The site adjusted U.S. Census earnings figures to account for differences in workers' educational levels, occupations and other factors and found a wide disparity between what people with similar backgrounds earn in different locales.

Kolko says that besides the fact that companies in large cities typically pay workers more (presumably to cover higher costs of living), education seems to play a big role in deciding who makes what where. The more educated a city's average worker is, the more money people in that community tend to make.

But the economist adds that there's more to picking a place to live than just looking at typical wages.

For instance, he says job hunters also need to consider whether a given locale has openings in their particular fields.

Kolko says job-seekers should also factor in local costs of living when deciding whether positions in a given city pay badly or not.

"The places with the biggest earnings premiums also tend to be more expensive to live in," he says. "There's no one measure that can tell you where you should move to."

Click below to check out the five metro areas that Trulia found offer the lowest pay after adjusting for education, the local mix of professions and other factors (or click here to see where the biggest paychecks are).

Trulia based its rankings on figures from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey for 2007-11, the latest period with numbers available. All earnings estimates refer to locations where people work rather than live, and statistics cover entire metro areas rather than just cities proper.

"Typical-earnings" figures approximate how much less you can expect to earn in a given city vs. the U.S. average for workers with similar qualifications.

Cost-of-living estimates refer to third-quarter numbers from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, while jobless rates refer to U.S. Labor Department figures from October (the most recent month with local and national data available).

Fifth-worst metro area for high-paying jobs: Little Rock, Ark.
Typical earnings:
8.7% below U.S. average

Move to The Rock and you won't be rolling in dough.

That's because the typical worker in Arkansas' state capital makes nearly 9% less than the U.S. average, according to Trulia's analysis.

Kolko isn't sure exactly why Little Rock trails the national average, other than the fact that smaller metro areas generally offer workers lower pay.

On the plus side, Little Rock's 718,000 residents face just a 6.5% jobless rate -- well below the 7.3% U.S. average. Locals also enjoy a cost-of-living level 2.4% below what's typical nationwide.

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