The latest county job and wage numbers suggest that one place economic recovery starts is in counties that were already quite well off, like Manhattan. They also suggest that Santa Clara County, CA -- the heart of Silicon Valley -- is Manhattan's main competitor.
In the first quarter of this year, Manhattan, aka New York County, gained nearly twice as many jobs (43,400) as Cook County, IL (22,900), which includes the City of Chicago. The two counties have approximately the same employment base -- Manhattan has 2.304 million workers and Cook County has 2.334 million. The first-quarter numbers, just published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compare the first quarter of 2011 with the first quarter of 2010 to minimize issues of seasonality.
Among the 322 large counties with more than 75,000 employees, only Harris, TX, gained more jobs than Manhattan in the first quarter compared with the previous year.
Manhattan's average weekly wage was the highest of the large counties at $2,634, with the next two highest-wage counties both in the NYC metro area (Fairfield, CT and Somerset, NJ). The next two highest-wage counties are in California (Santa Clara and San Francisco). The average weekly wage in large counties in the first quarter of 2011 was $935.
The increase in wages from 2010 to 2011 (again, first quarter numbers) was highest in Manhattan among the large counties, $222. The average U.S. large-county increase was $46. Santa Clara county was second. Somerset, NJ and Fairfield, CT are also among the top ten large counties in terms of their wage increase.
On a percentage basis, Manhattan wages rose 9.2 percent, which placed 10th out of the 322 large counties. Manhattan accounts for approximately three-quarters of the New York City economy.