The two counties comprising the Sun Gazette’s coverage are saw year-over-year increases in average wages in new federal data, but neither this time around cracked the exclusive $2,000-per-week club.
The average income of those working in Arlington stood at $1,845 in the third quarter of 2020, while those employed in Fairfax earned an average of $1,774, according to data reported Feb. 24 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Arlington’s average weekly wage was up 4 percent from the same quarter in 2019, while Fairfax’s was up 7.5 percent. Nationally, the average weekly wage rose 7.4 percent to $1,173.
The quarterly survey looks at the 357 American counties (in Virginia, that includes independent cities), and counts where a person works, regardless of where he or she lives.
Across the nation, 350 of the 357 localities saw a boost in average weekly wage, due largely to the disproportionately large impact of the COVID virus and government-mandated economic lockdowns on those in the service sector and other low-wage jobs.
As proof, several of the most high-wage localities – such as those in the San Francisco Bay area – saw their already stratospheric average weekly wages rise by 20 percent or more, as higher-compensated office personnel were able to keep their jobs and work from home.
(In a sign that more retail/restaurant workers are returning to their jobs, the average wage in most jurisdictions declined from the second quarter to the third quarter – a sign, however counterintuitive, of things returning to normal-ish.)
For the third quarter, five localities surpassed $2,000 per week in average wages:
• San Mateo County, Calif., which stood at $2,922, up 23.2 percent from a year before.
• Santa Clara County, Calif., $2,883, up 18 percent.
• San Francisco city and county, Calif., $2,750, up 20.7 percent.
• New York County (Manhattan), N.Y., $2,342, up 13.7 percent.
• King County, Wash., $2,077, up 14.3 percent.
Compared to the second quarter of 2020, King County was a new arrival to the $2,000-a-week list, while Suffolk County (Boston and environs) in Massachusetts dropped off, with its weekly wage declining to $1,942.
Arlington briefly joined the $2,000-a-week club in the first quarter of 2020, with its weekly wage standing at $2,018. But that figure declined to $1,926 in the second quarter. Fairfax has never made the ranking.
Among other Virginia jurisdictions, the weekly wage and year-over-year change stood at $967 in Chesterfield County, up 5.1 percent; $1,083 in Henrico County, up 5.5 percent; $1,335 in Loudoun County, up 9.9 percent; $1,549 in Alexandria, up 2.9 percent; $917 in Chesapeake, up 7 percent; $1,069 in Newport News, up 4.5 percent; $1,129 in Norfolk, up 5.1 percent; $1,301 in Richmond, up 8.2 percent; and $902 in Virginia Beach, up 7.9 percent.
Nationally, total employment for the quarter was down 6.8 percent to 138,550,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 355 localities saw lower year-over-year employment; the only outliers were Davis County and Utah County, each in Utah, which saw employment jumps of 0.8 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.