EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Businesses across the country are adding job positions for new hires faster than the roles can be filled, but the wage rate depends on location.

A recent study conducted by Self examined the average monthly earnings for new hires across the country and found that a smaller pool of workforce members and generous unemployment benefits are driving up wages — just not in El Paso.

The study reports that new hires in El Paso are earning a cost-of-living adjusted wage of $2,797 per month, compared to the national wage rate of $3,266 for new hires.

“I definitely noticed this after I moved here and started job-hunting. The tradeoff is that rent and other costs are lower, so it is possible to live on less,” says Flora Eugenie, who moved to El Paso before the COVID-19 pandemic after working in New York and New Jersey.

Multiple factors are contributing to the rate — and rates — of which the U.S. economy transitions into the next phase of economic recovery that depend on industry, job position, and location.

New hires in industries like food services and accommodation have historically earned the lowest wages (about $1,458 per month), which is persisting.

The study from Self reports that industries that have traditionally paid the lowest wages are facing growing disparities as the chasm between new hire pay and all worker pay ranges from a low of about 11 percent in the agriculture industry to more than 50 percent in fields like management, education, and the arts.

For example, new hires in the information industry — like computer programming and tech jobs — are being paid about $7,060 per month, whereas information workers that include new hires and existing employees are being paid around $8,825.

New hires in mining, oil, gas utilities, sectors also commanded strong wages when compared to new hires in other fields.

El Paso AverageNational Average
Average monthly new hire earnings (adjusted): $2,797Average monthly new hire earnings: N/A
Average monthly new hire earnings (actual): $2,453Average monthly new hire earnings (actual): $3,266
Average monthly earnings across all workers (actual): $3,162Average monthly earnings across all workers (actual): $4,783
Median home price: $155,222Median home price: $281,370
Cost of living (compared to national averaged):
Cost of living (compared to national averaged):
El Paso metro area averages compared to national average

The data comes as local, state, and federal entities work to get people back to work.

“Women were hit really hard during the pandemic,” U.S. Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, tells KTSM 9 News. “Particularly women of color,” she adds.

An analysis by El Paso Matters reports that women made up less than 47 percent of the local workforce before the pandemic, but represented more than half of new unemployment claims that corresponds to more women losing jobs than men across the country pursuant to the pandemic.

“The reason a lot of women couldn’t get back to the workforce is because childcare,” says Raimonda, noting that school closures and reduced capacity at day care centers are exacerbating the challenge.

While the cost-of-living in El Paso is lower compared to the national average, many continue to struggle.

“I know it’s really hard,” says Raimondo, “I wish it wasn’t that hard.”

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