AJC has the results of a recent salary survey, with some surprising results:

The average pharmacist in metro Atlanta makes $17,792 more than the average pharmacist in New York City. And the average cop in metro Atlanta makes less than police officers in metro Charlotte — though metro Atlanta has three times the population.

The comparisons — available in the federal government’s latest annual compensation survey — seem to defy logic. But experts say that’s because people overestimate the role that local cost of living factors play in determining wages.

The fact is, they say, supply and demand in a particular profession and the strength of labor unions in a city weigh just as heavily in what people are paid.

It’s not that employers don’t take into account such variables as the cost of housing when deciding how much to pay employees.

“But there isn’t a one-to-one correlation,” said Michael Wald, an Atlanta-based regional economist for the Labor Department. “Employers compete with other employers for employees. They don’t compete with housing costs.”

That makes sense, obviously, but is still counter to the way most of us think about wages.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.