Colorado and metro Denver have an above-average share of jobs paying $100,000 or more a year, but they lagged behind other areas when it came to adding more of those high-paying jobs the past five years, according to a new study from Tessa, a provider of rental property management software.
Colorado went from having 181,830 jobs paying $100,000 or more a year in 2015 to 248,520 such jobs in 2020, a growth rate of 36.7% that ranked 37th overall, between Massachusetts and Alabama.
Hawaii, the national leader, had a 367.7% growth rate — 10-times that measured in Colorado. Nevada, Utah, Arizona and North Dakota round out the top five states that added high-wage jobs at the fastest rate.
One explanation for Colorado’s slower growth rate is that the state already has the ninth highest share of six-figure jobs at 9.6%. Achieving bigger percentage gains is much easier off a small base, like North Dakota, where only 3.2% of jobs pay above $100,000 a year.
But that explanation only goes so far. California, where a nation-leading 16.2% of jobs carry a six-figure paycheck, had a growth rate of 65.6%, nearly 20 percentage points higher than Colorado.
Metro Denver ranked 40th out of 52 large metros with a 42.4% growth rate in the number of high-paying jobs, behind Atlanta and ahead of Pittsburgh. The leading large metros on that measure were Nashville, at 270.9%; Phoenix at 217.1%; and Las Vegas at 216.1%.
Measuring the share of jobs paying $100,000 or more, Denver’s 11.7% concentration ranked 11th among large metros, behind Baltimore and ahead of Hartford, Conn.
Out of 86 mid-sized metros the study examined, Fort Collins ranked 21st with a 118.9% growth rate in high-paying jobs, followed by Colorado Springs in the 35th spot with an 85.9% growth rate. In Fort Collins, 5.9% of jobs paid $100,000 or more, while in Colorado Springs that ratio was 8.8%,
Of the 181 small metros studied, Greeley ranked 23rd with a 224.4% gain in high-paying jobs, Pueblo ranked 73rd with a 95.5% gain, Boulder ranked 127th with a 47.6% gain, and Grand Junction ranked 138th with a 36.7% gain.
Boulder had the second-highest share of high-paying jobs among small metros after Lexington Park, Md., at 14.6%, and of the 321 metros of all sizes studied, it ranked ninth for its concentration of jobs paying $100,000 or more a year.
Although higher wages are commonly associated with tech, finance, law and medicine, general managers and operations managers were the largest source of six-figure salaries, according to the study.
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