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Andrea Lechner-Becker

Most Valuable Industries by City | LeadMD

Andrea Lechner-Becker / July 18, 2019 / 0 Comments

The Highest Industry Payrolls by City

Cities are complicated systems that thrive on a network of people and the constant ebb and flow of economic factors. Every city has a unique structure that contributes to its overall fiscal health. While these commercial systems are hugely complex, when it comes to their value to the citizens, it really boils down to two factors: how many people are employed by that industry, and what are they being paid?

That’s why we decided to crunch the numbers to find the highest industry payroll earnings in each city. To do this, we used 2017 Census data to determine the number of employees working in a variety of industries in each city and then multiplied the average industry salary by the number of employees to get an estimate of the total payroll by city. We also took 2013 Census data to determine the amount of growth (or decline) each industry payroll has had over time, as well as finding each payroll percent of total GDP for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

Here’s what we found out!

Many of America’s top cities are known for hosting a variety of large, lucrative industries that help stimulate their local economy. The technical services industry and health care industry makes up for the majority of top industries in each city in 2017, as both appear as the top industry by payroll earnings in 18 cities each. Charlotte and Las Vegas have their own unique industry as their top industry by payroll earnings. Charlotte’s finance industry has a cumulative payroll of nearly $7.3 billion, while Las Vegas’ accommodation and foodservice industry employees take home over $5.7 billion.

In addition to finding the top industry by payroll earning, we also found the percent of total GDP each top industry accounts for in each MSA and the percent change in payroll for each city’s top industry over time. The manufacturing industry in Portland accounts for over a quarter of the MSA’s total GDP. That makes sense considering Portland is home to some manufacturing companies such as Underarmour, Schnitzer Steel and General Electric. 

As for the percent change for these top industries, all but one experienced growth from 2013 to 2017. While Cleveland’s manufacturing industry is the top industry by payroll earnings in the area, it has experienced a -2.29% decline in cumulative payroll over time. On the other hand, New York City’s technical services industry has experienced over an astonishing 1,386% increase in cumulative payroll over time.

Since we had the data, we expanded on the top industries by creating a map that shows the top five industries by payroll earnings in each city. By hovering over each MSA point on the map above, a popup will appear with the top five industries ranked in each city as well as the cumulative payroll (in millions) for each respective industry.

We couldn’t include a map of the top five industries by payroll earnings in each city without creating maps with the top and bottom industries by payroll growth or decline in each city. The first map (above) shows the top three industries by payroll growth in each city. Just like the first map, by hovering over each data point, you can see the top three industries in each city that are experiencing the highest amount of growth from 2013 to 2017.

This next map shows the bottom three industries by payroll decline in each city. In most cities, the bottom three industries all experience negative growth in cumulative payroll over time. However, for some industries in some cities, the bottom three aren’t experiencing a decline, but rather a slow to nearly stagnant growth. For example, the agriculture and forestry industry in Phoenix has only grown by 0.83% from 2013 to 2017.

Now that we’ve shared our findings, we’d love to hear from you! How do you think that your industry stacks up in your city? Share in the comments below.



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