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Employees Are Getting Bigger Paychecks for Less Work in These 6 Cities

Is it possible to work shorter hours and get paid more? Yes — you just have to know where to look.

By Emily Handy on July 15, 2021

Wouldn’t it be nice to work fewer hours and get paid more? According to a study from RewardExpert, this dream can be your reality — if you know where to look. The study used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ State and Metro Area Employment, Hours and Earnings report to identify the top metropolitan areas where workers enjoy shorter workweeks and heftier paychecks.>

You can see all the rankings here, but we couldn’t resist highlighting some of the best small to mid-sized cities that made the cut:

Mankato, MN

Mankato, MN came in at #1, and for good reason: employees in this Minnesota college town work an average of 29 hours in a workweek, and crush the national average hourly wage rate, raking in an average of $26.35 per hour. These two factors weigh in and send Mankato to the very top of the list.

This brief workweek, combined with Minnesota’s vibrant job market, makes the state a haven for millennials looking to start their careers. If you need more reasons to move to Minnesota (you know, besides the big paychecks and short workweeks), check out our list of 8 Reasons to Move to Minnesota.

Photo by Lainey Dyer

Corvallis, OR

Located about an hour south of Portland and home of Oregon State University, Corvallis makes frequent appearances on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list due to its tight-knit community, fantastic educational opportunities and gorgeous green spaces. But Corvallis also deserves accolades for a workweek that averages 30.4 hours and an hourly wage average of $28.38. This college town ranked number two on RewardExpert’s list — not bad for a town that also scored a spot on our 10 Best College Towns list.

Chico CA
Chico / jmoor17

Chico, CA

Life moves at a different pace in the small city of Chico, CA. Tucked away from the booming technology and entertainment industries in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Chico came in at number three on the list due to the fact that employees here earn an average of $26.36 an hour — $2.50 more per hour than the national average. Its workweeks are also pretty laid back and clock in at a mere 30.6 hours.

It’s no wonder that one out of every eight people in America live in California because it’s home to sunny weather, great job opportunities and creative culture that contributes to the high quality of life. While this part of the country is notoriously pricey, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find affordable places to live here. You just have to know where to look.

eau claire
Eau Claire / Photo Courtesy of Visit Eau Claire

Eau Claire, WI

Once a hub for both the manufacturing and lumber industries, Eau Claire has successfully evolved into a thriving center of tech manufacturing and healthcare. Eau Claire is one of the best places to live in Wisconsin, thanks to a vibrant economy and all the amenities provided by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. This city of 68,000 landed the fifth spot on RewardExpert’s list due to the fact that it has the fourth-shortest workweek out of the 387 studied metropolitan areas. The average hourly wage for its residents clocks in slightly above the national average at $24.62.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Nestled along the coast right between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is San Luis Obispo. This sweet, coastal city nabbed ninth place thanks to its short workweeks (averaging just 29.6 hours) — short enough for employees to duck out of the office early and get in some surfing.

Because it is farther away from bigger metropolitan areas, hourly wages are slightly lower than other cities on the list, but the average employee can still expect to rake in $24.05 an hour. Despite slightly slimmer wages, people in San Luis Obispo are extremely satisfied with their quality of life, so much so that the city is often referred to as America’s happiest place. (Sorry, Disneyland.)

ames ia
Ames / Jennifer Kathryn Photography

Ames, IA

The charming college town of Ames, IA has a lot going for it. This small Iowa city routinely lands a spot on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list and it’s easy to see why. This ambitious city in the center of Iowa is home to more than 65,000 people, and growing fast thanks in part to the caliber and quantity of job opportunities here.

One of the city’s greatest attributes, though, is its 31.9 average hourly workweeks, and hourly wages of $25.85, which is above the national average. Residents here make the most out of those weekly hours, and get to enjoy all four seasons, 37 parks, and miles and miles of walking and bike trails.

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