Study: Oklahoma workforce near bottom of income

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Workers in Oklahoma are the eighth lowest paid among the 50 states, with an average annual income of $49,878, according to a new study. (Photo by Elisa Ventur via Unsplash)

Oklahoma’s workforce continues to be among the lowest paid by the hour nationally, confirms a study released this month. The news comes as households grapple with rising fuel, food and housing costs. The consumer price index rose 8% in February from the same month a year ago, reports the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Oklahoma has the eighth-lowest salary among the 50 states, with an average salary of $24.04 per hour, according to research from job site Lensa.

Workers here earn nearly $16 less per hour than in Connecticut, the highest-paid workforce at $39.89 per hour.

The states with the lowest average hourly wages were Mississippi, West Virginia and Alabama, all paying less than $23.

A good salary is a major concern when looking for job opportunities, but it is not the only factor. The cost of living – the amount of money needed to meet basic needs such as housing, food and health care – will determine whether it is worth moving to a new place for a higher salary. The cost of living varies greatly from state to state.

The Lensa study shows that the average annual income is $49,878 in Oklahoma and $78,609 in Connecticut, while the 2022 living wage reported by World Population Review is $47,000 and $60,000 respectively. .

Incomes exceed the cost of living in both places, but workers in Connecticut earn 30% more than the living wage while Oklahomans are paid only 6% more.

Inflation has likely eroded this thin margin to a negative number.

Housing is a determining factor for the World Population Review’s 2022 Cost of Living Index. The report shows that the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the United States is $1,192 per month and in Oklahoma is significantly lower at around $879 per month, based on November 2020 figures.

But rental housing costs in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States rose 19.3% from December 2020 to December 2021, according to Realtor.com.

The median rent index for a two-bedroom apartment in Oklahoma City today is $1,155, according to Apartment List’s March 2022 Rent Report. This is more than 25% more than the November 2020 rate used to determine the cost of living.

In most cases, wages are not keeping pace, which means workers can ask for a raise.

Lensa points out that the uncertainty in the economy is prompting companies to manage their finances prudently. Just as there are times when you shouldn’t ask for a raise, there are positive cues that point to opportunities for you to ask for a raise.

Listen for indications that the company is in good financial health or is considering hiring. A good time to ask is after you’ve been recognized for an outstanding contribution or after you’ve received a glowing performance review.

Angela Copeland, founder of Copeland Coaching, offered this advice in a recent Career Corner column:

If you feel like you’re underpaid, do your homework. There are websites that share salary data – and more and more companies are including salaries in job postings.

A good time to have conversations about salary is during your annual performance review. It’s a time when you discuss the progress you’ve made over the past year. You can showcase your work and discuss your future career path with the company.

If you see other companies paying significantly more than you earn today, your best bet is to start looking at those companies, Copeland continued. Companies reward new employees in order to attract them to their organizations. This is traditionally where the highest salaries are found.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the cheapest parts of the country will always pay less. Salaries vary widely by company. You can find a job in a cheaper area that pays more than you earn today.

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