Sunday, March 25, 2007

Vallejo wages on the rise Studies show 19 percent pay-scale increase since 2001

Vallejo wages on the rise
Studies show 19 percent pay-scale increase since 2001

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Article Launched:03/25/2007 08:50:08 AM PDT
It may surprise you - or not - that Vallejo-area wage hikes are outpacing not only California, but the nation.

That's according to one new study that shows area pay scales have risen more than 19 percent since 2001. Another study, meanwhile, shows local employers predict strong job growth in the coming quarter.

That Vallejo area wages rose more than the state's or the nation's comes as welcome news, though as no surprise to Rick Wells, Vallejo Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

"This goes to what we've been telling potential businesses - that we've seen demographic changes in Vallejo and the region and that the old Census data is no longer accurate," Wells said.

According to e-Canned, an economic analysis Web site, the Vallejo-Fairfield metro area's 19.1 percent rise in average industry wages since 2001 compares to California's 15 percent increase. It also beats the national rise of 15.8 percent over the same period.

The site further reports the county's median household income has "increased sharply" - more than 50 percent - to $62,213 in that time, making it one of the nation's fastest growing metro areas.

Meanwhile, the area's poverty rate has fallen nearly 4 percent since the 2000 census, even as the area's population has grown an almost identical percentage, according to the site.

Still, the site, which analyzes U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates Program and 2005 American Community Survey data, shows African-American, Hispanic and Asian households here are still more likely than whites to be poor. It also shows that children under 5 "have the largest percentage of population in poverty" in the Vallejo-Fairfield area.

The site reports that the percentage of area minorities has increased to 49.4 percent from 45.1 percent in 2000, while Caucasians comprise 45.1 percent of the area's population.

Overall, the changes should spell good news for locals, Wells said.

"It means we'll become more attractive to business - especially high-end retail, which will mean more retail options for the people who live here," Wells said. "It also means a greater number of available jobs."

Wells' conclusion mirrors the latest Manpower employment survey, which shows Solano and Napa county employers expect to hire at a steady pace during the second quarter of 2007.

Area job seekers likely will have the best luck in construction, durable goods manufacturing, services and public administration, said Manpower spokeswoman Sherrie Phillipi. A 20 percent net gain is expected in the area, Phillipi said.

As the Vallejo chamber board president, Touro University's Dick Hassel said he's not surprised, either.

"We're due," Hassel said. "We're one of the last great areas for job growth left in the Bay Area and our day is coming. This portends prosperity to come."

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

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