Wages up– but you still can’t afford to live here

Paychecks in the Charlottesville area have gone up 4.7 percent in the past year. The bad news? "Charlottesville is 6 percent below the national average," according to Joe Kilmartin with Salary.com, which conducted the survey for the Chamber of Commerce.

Nationally, wages increased 3.9 percent, so Charlottesville's gain "brings us closer to the national average," says Kilmartin.

"The Charlottesville market is not all that it could be in terms of wages," acknowledges Tim Hulbert, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, which commissioned the survey.

A press release reveals that the median salary for a call center rep is $21,800. A graphic designer makes $38K, and a nurse practitioner pulls in $75,200.

Alas, the median house price in Charlottesville is $280,000 and in Albemarle $310,500, keeping home ownership out of the reach of many of the workers whose companies were surveyed.

And what does a waiter or a bank teller make in Charlottesville? The Chamber isn't telling beyond the 13 jobs listed on the release, which include medians for warehouse supervisor ($45,000), fundraising manager ($92,600), and IT director ($95k).

The survey is proprietary, and Carolyn Fowler of HR Diversified Solutions warns the Hook that even if we pony up $200 for a copy of the report, publishing the information is strictly forbidden.

The hush-hushedness of salary information around here reminds us of Will Shaw, who took UVA to court over a Freedom of Information Act request to see a market survey for jobs that Shaw, as a manager, at times had to fill. UVA refused to provide the information, and ultimately the General Assembly rewrote the law to make it "UVA proof." Then Shaw was moved to a job without management responsibilities, a move the university insists was not retaliatory.

Anyway, enjoy that extra 4.7 percent in your average paycheck.

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6 comments

The wages in Charlottesville are obscenely low. I recently moved away in large part because of the combination of low wages and a VERY high cost of living. Employers in Charlottesville are kidding themselves by thinking they're competitive - they are ignoring that people are no longer forced to consider local options. I put my name and resume out there just to find out what I was worth, and I found out that I am worth 80% more than I was making in Charlottesville. Not only that, but I moved to a city (very large city) and have found the cost of living to be at least 10% lower, and probably more like 20% lower. Housing is dramatically less expensive. Some may think the quality of life is lessened, but we don't think it is - it's definitely different, but there are many advantages here that Charlottesville clearly lacks. When we balanced the lifestyle changes against the financial changes, it was a slam dunk no-brainer for us. Your mileage may vary. But I can easily afford to live in the same city I work in. What a concept.

Yes, there's a niche for everyone in America and it isn't always in Charlottesville. It's nice to see people getting out an discovering there's an exciting world out there worth experiencing. Just remember, low skill levels usually mean low wages most places; keep in the educational stream and good luck to you.

Low skills = low wages, indeed. And the educational stream is of great value...sometimes. Ask anybody with a Master's degree in Charlottesville waiting tables - you can't cross the street without running into one or two.

Charlottesville is a fabulous community to live in. I agree wages are lower than other areas of the country, but the community can help make up for that fact.

We are very fortunate in our area to have affordable homes still at under $200,000 in Lake Monticello just a 20 minute ride from Cville where there's a 350 acre lake you can swim in and use the sandy beaches home to 4000 families, golf course, dini8ng and more. The hoa fee is not that bad for all the amenities of less than $600 yr.
It is also surrounding by several shopping centers, and even has Domino pizza deliver
inside the neighborhood. It is a gated community also but easy access through bar codes for residents.

As realtors we are very thankful to have this community we can offer to our buyers for under $200,000, as it has so much to offer.

I realize wages are higher in Northern Virginia, but for me I would never consider the
traffic and prices of housing in exchange for higher wages. Charlottesville is #1 several years ago for a reason.

We will all continue to enjoy Cville hopefully for all it's special facets.

"but the community can help make up for that fact."

oh please cease and desist with that c**p. if you want to advertise your services, use the appropriate channels and propaganda machines

Yes, Music Lover, degrees in material science, civil engineering, nuclear engineering, banking, political science, anthropology, art history, military science, and marine science will probably land you in a restaurant in Charlottesville. With so many chefs floating in and out of here, I suspect that's where many of them would like to be. Most working people have to let their degrees and job opportunities determine their location, unless they will follow the example of the Karen Kehoes and choose a career that is not directly related to their degree. What's hot in Charlottesville? Well-paying jobs that are medically-related.