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San Francisco, D.C., San Diego Cited as Best Job Markets for High-End Execs

Study ranks cities according to the number of employment openings with salaries of $100,000 or more versus the number of individuals actively seeking jobs in this high income bracket.

October 19, 2007
Odds are if you’re an employer doing business along the Atlantic or Pacific Coast, you’re having to dig deep into your compensation coffer to attract white-collar workers, according to the third-quarter Executive Job Market Trends report, put out by New York-based job board TheLadders.com.

The study ranks cities according to the number of employment openings with salaries of $100,000 or more versus the number of individuals actively seeking jobs in this high income bracket. San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego made up the top three. For job seekers in those cities, this means an easier time finding coveted positions paying $100,000 and up. But for local employers—the likes of Google, Fannie Mae and Qualcomm—it translates into having to pay top dollar for talent.

The cities on the list do not come as a surprise to HR experts, given the areas’ high price tags for real estate and basics such as food and gas.

“The cost of living tends to be very high in these places,” IDB analyst Lisa Rowan says. “Employers are going to have to compensate adequately so that workers can afford to live there.”

Furthermore, cities like Boston (No. 4 on the list) and San Francisco are big hubs for employers in finance, IT and biotech—sectors where the demand for highly specialized talent tends to outstrip the number of qualified workers. As such, the tables are generally in favor of employees when it comes to hammering out compensation agreements.

“They can command high salaries because there is a distinct dearth of talent in certain industries,” says John Roderick, spokesman for TheLadders.com. “Employers are willing do whatever it takes to attract much-needed talent.”

Roderick, however, has a word of caution for companies planning to attract employees solely on the basis of a hefty paycheck. “It won’t be enough,” he says. “This group of workers is very discerning and is willing to wait for the right opportunity.”

Roderick says that besides adequate compensation, this elite talent pool is looking for companies with a strong brand, job stability and a sterling reputation.

—Gina Ruiz