Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


What Your Paycheck Is Actually Worth In Los Angeles

This is for the big spenders (Photo by Culture Schlock via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
We need to hear from you.
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

We know being an Angeleno comes with its perks (like great weather!), but we're also aware of its pitfalls, including the high cost of living. We cringe every time we have to pay for parking or can only afford renting tiny studio apartments that are touted as "Beverly Hills adjacent" (and definitely aren't) on Craigslist. Not being part of the 1 percent is pretty tough in this city. But just how much is our paycheck really worth?

NPR Planet Money put together an infographic using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2012, revealing the typical annual income for full-time workers: in Los Angeles, that's $29,815. You can compare that to other cities like DC ($44,452) or San Francisco ($41,265), but the cool part about this infographic is it calculated what our average salary actually "feels like" when you figure in the cost of living. It turns out making just shy of $30K actually feels like $23,929 in Los Angeles. Rough. Expensive cities with high salaries seem much less appealing when you take into account affordability: DC ($34,907) and San Francisco ($32,383).

California came in fifth place as having the highest costs of goods and services. We trailed behind DC, Hawaii, New York and New Jersey. At least we're not #1? (This is the second really depressing study to come out about how expensive our city is this week: yesterday it was a study saying that to purchase that average home in Los Angeles, you'll need a $85,964.88 in household income.)

Hey, but if you want your salary to go a long way, you can always move to these cities where the salaries there feel higher than other cities. In Danville, Illinois, the average worker makes more than in Los Angeles and feels like they're making $35K. Or you could go to Hot Springs, Arizona and Muncie, Indiana where salaries are low but they go much further. Maybe your best bet is Rochester, Minnesota, where the average workers feel like they're making more than any other city list: a sweet $36K.

Most Read