Previous   Next

Do you think salaries in Lawrence are falling below the national average?

Asked at Borders, 700 N.H. on April 28, 2005

Browse the archives

Photo of Bryan Kluger

“I’m not sure what the national average is, but I know if I had the same job in Kansas City or another big city, I would be making more.”

Photo of Marnie Gloor

“Yes. The salary offers outside of Lawrence are significantly higher. About $2 to $3 more an hour or around $3,000 more for a salaried position.”

Photo of Erin Binter

“If they have fallen behind, it’s probably because of the high turnover rates caused by the students.”

Photo of Robert Wilson

“I don’t think so. Not when you take the cost of living into account. Lawrence is a good value.”


lunacydetector 13 years, 1 month ago

hasn't lawrence always been below average in pay?

you do make a lot more money in KC.

lawrence offers very little. if you don't work for the university, you work for a fly-by-night call center the chamber of commerce is always recruiting. look at a couple of our City commissioners - THEY HAVE TO WORK IN TOPEKA, because they can't get work in Lawrence. if they could get work in lawrence, wouldn't they be working here? attorneys make about $30,000 more in topeka and $50,000 more in KC. any lawyers, please correct me if i am wrong.

call center city - another name for - LAWRENCE

redbird 13 years, 1 month ago

Yes Lawrence is known for being the city of little sweatshops.Lots of jobs for below average pay,considering that the cost of living is way overrated for this town.Robert in the above section hinted towards the cost of living not being that bad,I totally disagree,try buying a house on the average salary in town,the banks will laugh at you!!!!A big turnover of students,hmm this could be a reason,most companies won't pay much when they know that the person or persons won't be there that long..... I work at the university and had to buy a home outside of Lawrence and do most of my shopping outside of Lawrence,have saved a lot of money doing this .....and yes I agree with all the university "workers"...the pay sucks,it's not bad for the administrators,who point fingers and make decisions,but for somebody who paints,constructs,mows,trims in the most adverse conditions(without a a/c or heat),rain,snow...well you get it,the pay just sucks.Feel good about your pay???Try being a maintainence worker at the university and try to be positive or have a positive work attitude.

KsjKC 13 years, 1 month ago

For kns--

Oh come ON! I lived in Lawrence--very happily so--from 1975 until this past summer, and moved to OP just to be closer to my work, which had already been in KC for some time. I live between Metcalf and I-35, and nearly everyday I have to step over huge steaming piles of hoes and gangstas and crackheads here in this Republican right-wing stronghold.

You do note the mild tone of sarcasm, do you not?

Lawrence is a GREAT place to live--it is also growing everyday and is not so free of crime and pestilence as to be a pollyanna-like sanctuary.

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

This is a pretty obvious question, isn't it? This town is not set up to provide people with career or good salary jobs, except for the university. This town is built around a huge constantly recycling wage labor force that doesn't want full time hours, for the most part, and suck up a huge percentage of the available jobs. I would imagine that most university towns are the same way.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 1 month ago

Yep the college population give employers incentive to pay low wages. It seems to me if you want to attract the best "workers" offer more to encourage longevity and less turn over. Training new staff over and over might cost more than paying a good employee a decent wage to stick around.

A nicely landscaped light industrial area such as that on the table for SE Lawrence is an excellent plan and would be attractive to those offering higher salary packages. It's the home builders that are providing the resistence as homes are like immediate gratification for their bank accounts. Lawrence needs this type of area for high tech and other higher wage employers. Yep I believe Lawrence has the low wage area covered very well.

Robert Wilson the builder from Eudora must not be paying Lawrence style property taxes. Soon he will if Eudora allows an uneven balance of new homes vs. light industrial such that Lawrence has done.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 1 month ago

I've got to take exception with ole' Bob Wilson. He's the one that said "when you take the cost of living into account, Lawrence is a good value." Apparently, he missed that little article that said Lawrence/Douglas County has the highest cost of living in the state...

Hmm, low pay + high cost of living = poverty, crime, etc.

misseve 13 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence pay sucks......

there is no debating that in any form. We commute to KC and Topeka just to make enough money to live on. It's really sad to say the least, but as long as companies think they can pay us crap they will and even the jobs at KU are paying pennies. Me thinks i need to find a suga daddy...

lunacydetector 13 years, 1 month ago

das ubermine, yes, i believe this study is accurate. lawrence businesses are spoiled because they have the ku students as a ready supply for the low paying jobs.

though i firmly believe money does not bring happiness, ask your wife if she likes money and if she would like more of it.

it's funny, but after reading the article, of course things are getting better the further we get from september 11th, its called 'cost of living' pay increases - duh.

i love the standard Chamber b.s. lines about 'growing business' or 'business expansion' - because there aren't any new businesses coming to town. of course, studies are always questioned by the powers-that-be because those studies make the powers-that-be look very bad. another example is the Census vs the City's growth for lawrence. the Census says lawrence has slowed to a next to nothing crawl (because of City 'no-growth' policies). the City says it ain't so! right, sure, whatever.

give me a new 'call center' or give me death. call centers are great because they provide jobs just above minimum wage to people who want a career in telemarketing.

a story should be done on why lawrence has become such a mecca for fly-by-night telemarketing firms.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

Were we ever above the national average? The cost of living is terrible here. The cost of a nice starter home in many places will buy you a sturdy cardboard box here in Lawrence. My guess is that many more people commute to Topeka, JoCo, or farther than those that commute to Lawrence from those places.

The university provides Lawrence with many advantages communities this size don't often enjoy: educational opportunities, the museums, speakers and performances, sports. But a sizeable, temporary unskilled and low-skilled labor pool drives wages down. And this large, semi-transient population increases the demand for housing, driving up the cost of apartments and homes. Obviously we permanent residents check the balance sheet of costs vs. benefits and choose to remain here. But for my family at least, that equation is getting harder and harder to calculate.

KsjKC 13 years, 1 month ago

My mom and dad have lived here since the mid-70's and while they were once both an active part of the workforce, now that they are retirement age it is nearly impossible for my dad to find work he NEEDS to keep himself and my mom above water. Why? Not because he is too old or feeble to work--but because the floating workforce of students has driven down both wages and opportunity. My dad isn't GOING anywhere in four years, and he is able and intelligent--but my parents have seen THEIR standard of living decrease as the costs have increased. Is this what they get for 30 years of living and paying taxes in this community? to be ignored and see their quality of life diminished? It makes me want to toss a martini in the faces of the Countey Club set that's blind to a serious issue in Lawrence.

bleeding_flower 13 years, 1 month ago

Ya know I don't post on here very often, but I read it every day. Most of the time it makes me laugh, with your liberal or conservative views. I would have to say that I am a liberal, but I don't go around blatanly condeming everyone of everything that doens't agree with what I have to say. Upon saying that Lawrence is a hard place to find a decently job. I may not have a college degree but I did get some training to be a medical assistant. (I also hope to go to JuCo in the fall to get my BSN.) The only thing that I was able to find was an assistant school nurse. So to make up the difference in pay I have to work at Dillions part time to make enough money. However I wouldn't move away from Lawrence for anything. Lawrence is my home and I am proud of it. I think it is because it is such a liberal city. I am proud of the fact that Douglas County was the only county to approve of gay marriage. So if I ever for some unfathomable reason I had to move from Lawrence it would have to be totally out of Kansas.

lunacydetector 13 years, 1 month ago

merrill, light industrial parks take years to fill. look who occupies one building in a light industrial area - it's a call center. that says, 'desperation,' to me. lawrence lacks retail to generate sales/property taxes.

ms_canada 13 years, 1 month ago

O Bob - moving is not such an easy thing to do at times. My daughter lived in a small city in this province 1 hour north of the Montana border. She worked at the Uni. in Calgary which required a 2 1/2 hour drive, (not daily). She totally hated that drive but did it for the sake of her two boys. After searching for better employment for over a year, she finally accepted a teaching post at a college in B.C. a ten hour drive from away. It has been extremely hard on her and her boys because she had to leave her 18 yr. old behind. (he plays major junior hockey )
And as for cost of living having an effect on salary or vice versa, she makes $51K but can hardly afford to buy a house. The cheapest DECENT house runs $320K. Last Nov. a warm month, her gas bill was $170 and she rents a small 2 bdrm house for $1000/mth. $51K barely stretches. It's called relativity.

ms_canada 13 years, 1 month ago

oh yes, and fangorn - in a vote on the greatest invention known to man, I would have to give my vote to scoopable kitty liter, how about you?

Linda Aikins 13 years, 1 month ago

What a subject close to my heart. I love Lawrence very much but am finding myself moving to KC this summer to be nearer my work. Commuting on 10 highway is not fun.

I've been commuting to Topeka and KC since 1988 just trying to make a living, except for the two years I worked at KU. However, during that two years, I had my house foreclosed and I filed bankruptcy because I wasn't making enough at KU to live, but family circumstances dictated I be in Lawrence all day. Finally those issues were resolved and I again got a job in KC. I know I would make $8.50/hr in Lawrence for the same job I'm making $17.50 in KC, if there even was such a job.

I will be sad to go, but I have to pay my bills.

Misseve, you are on to something.

Poor me.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

I really have very little idea about the wages in Lawrence, I had a part-time job while at KU but it paid rather nicely for my age and situation. I took on another lower paying job after awhile. Other than that after graduation I immediately started commuting to Topeka for full-time work. Personally, commuting doesn't bother me. I have a 30 min drive one way in both the morning and afternoon. I actually love that time, it is 30 min in my day when I can just really be alone. Crank up the radio and think.

sunflower_sue 13 years, 1 month ago

Hey macon...what's the dig on St Jo Mo? Have you ever actually been there? Or are you one of those people who have spent a night in a town and claim to know it?
You can rent a BIG house in St Jo for the price of a 1 tiny bedroom crappy apartment in Lawrence. I also have at least a couple of friends in Lawrence that drive to St Jo everyday for work...'cause they can't get a job that pays squat in Lawrence! I spent 22 years in St Jo and have spent 15 years in Lawrence. Other than landscaping, they are both college towns except that St Jo seems to have BETTER opportunity than Lawrence as far as jobs. Yes, St Jo has lost some industries, it also has gained new ones at a steady pace. Sure, St Jo lost the pony express...but trains were bound to happen sooner or later! Is that the last time you were there?

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

An open question to all commuters: Do you find that the current spike in gas prices makes a dent in your monthly budget? I've never driven more than a few miles to work but may soon be commuting to KC, since I'm not finding anything here in Lawrence. I'm just wondering how big an impact it has.

ms_canada: The president of Tidy Cat Scoopable Litter sends us a Christmas card each year and quarterly updates on her two children's college education, since we're the ones paying for it. Well. . . . not really. But it would be nice if she did.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

When the powers that be start hyping the number of jobs generated by call centers they leave a lot unsaid. Most call center positions do not provide benefits.

The carrot of permanent status and benefits is ever before the faces of their employees. For several weekends prior to a huge layoff, one of the local call centers asked employees to work overtime. Workers were afraid to turn down the request, erroneously thinking their good attitude and work ethic would help them remain employed. Wrong! The center was through with them and tossed them aside. The centers also try to find anything that might allow them to dismiss with cause and thereby avoid or delay unemployment compensation. "Employees are encouraged to reapply in a few months . . ." indeed they may . . . and begin again at the bottom wage with no benefits.

The city and state pay dearly for the cost centers' hiring and firing/laying off practices.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

Fangorn: I do not have a lot of problems with my monthly budget since the gas prices are climbing. However, they will probably continue to go up so in a couple of months this may be a different story. As of now, I am just paying what I have to and dealing with it.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 1 month ago


I say the powers that be do not put enough effort into chasing down the better pay packages. The big box low wage packages are easy pickins however that's not what we need. The state BOE and our legislators are not helping much. However that should not stop new better pay packages from coming to Lawrence. The chamber needs to spend more time finding good salaries and less time playing politics.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

I really don't think that Topeka is as dangerous as KCK and for that matter there are really nice (safe) areas of KCK and Topeka. Of course there are more dangerous area of both and both are more dangerous than Lawrence. Certainly if someone was to move to areas of the KC metro it is equally as safe as Lawrence, like almost anywhere in Jo Co. But seriously, KC and Topeka are not just crime ridden. I have worked in both and have never been scared for my safety (ok, maybe a little in downtown KCK)

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

Omaha maybe, I don't know about Lincoln. All those Huskers!! Now that's scary. My brother-in-law survived through environmental adaptation. Had a Jay-Husker t-shirt made and wears it everywhere. Of course at 6'8" and a trim 285 lbs, people seem more forgiving of him.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

Wow, kns I did not expect you take that all that so offensively. No bullet proof vests or guns for me thanks. I just don't feel like I am in any danger. I don't think most places are truley that dangerous. Certainly I do not walk around KCK or Topeka at night, but for that matter I don't do that in Lawrence either. I am sorry that my feelings of safety offend you so greatly.

Linda Aikins 13 years, 1 month ago

Fangorn, I drive 42 miles each way, drive a small car, drive the speed limit, and can stretch the mpg to around 35. That comes to about $5.00/day for gasoline. I'd say the answer is yes.

I admire those big SUV owners who commute and can afford to drive 80. They must really be important people. Course a lot of their driving is when they draft from my tailpipe. I should invoice them.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

Indeed! You should also avoid W 25th Street between Louisiana and Alabama. They appear to be providing curb service.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence pay scales are below national average, but then so are many other Midwestern cities. Admittedly the cost of living in Lawrence may be high for the rest of Kansas, but it is still lower then the Northeast, West coast, or I should say the "national average".

The question addressed by so many others posting here is" Are Lawrence salaries too low for the cost of living in the community". The answer is yes. Now some blame can be pointed at the students providing a temporary labor pool that competes with Lawrence citizens. But recall that the university has been here a long time and the wage vs. cost of living issue has only been a growing issue over the last couple of decades. I believe most of the blame can be directed to the growth of Lawrence as a bedroom community for those that work in the KC region. The K-10 corridor provides access to higher paying jobs and demand for housing in Lawrence. Consider what happened to Lawrence since K-10 was built - it can't all be blamed on students.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

I agree that I have no plans to move to either KCK or Topeka, I love Lawrence. It is my home it is where I am happy and safe. Those other areas just don't bother me. As long as people are very aware of their surroundings you should be fine. I typically am not walking around KCK and would only walk around business districts (for instance I walk around Topeka's downtown quite often) but during the day. I am not up here at night but probably would not do it even if I was. :)

Carmenilla 13 years, 1 month ago

Where do all these drug addicts find the time to garden with "hoes"? Maybe it relaxes them. I never saw so much talk about gardening tools....

And yes, it is hard to find a great paying job in Lawrence. But when you do find one you can live very simply in this town. Sure rent and mortgages are high but the rest is fairly affordable. We try and live with little or no extravagance (sp?) yet we lead a wonderfully rich life. Lawrence is relatively safe and very family friendly. I am a bit of a townie and I have seen it change a lot over the last 20 years. It stills feels like a great place to raise a family.

Also, we survived yesterday, didn't we folks? I must have had a bee in my britches or something but it was fun to be "suggestively removed".....Heh heh.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

I think we all can agree on the safety factor of Lawrence, yes Lawrence is safer than KC or Topeka. But like every town Lawrence can be dangerous too. Carmenilla I am surprised someone suggested you be removed. I agree that you can live happily without being paid "the big bucks".

Carmenilla 13 years, 1 month ago

My removal was because I gave someone an idea of where they might lodge their complaint with me. I basically told him to put it where the sun don't shine. It was not one of my more eloquent moments. If I even have any of those!

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

Trust me kns, you don't want to actually see the hoes themselves. nnnnnnnnnasssty!

(and no, shut that dirty brain off. I started at a hotel once that was a place for them to take their johns, and saw a few license picture copies. . . shudder)

By the way, life is dangerous.

Carmenilla 13 years, 1 month ago

Hoes can get very dirty when digging in the dirt....

Life may be dangerous but if we live in fear constantly than we miss all the good things that surround us.

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

Maybe that could be a new marketing campaign for something.

Life may be dangerous but if we live in fear constantly then we miss all the good things that surround us. . . like the Dodge Ram pickup, with the best towing capacity in it's class.

Or. . .

Life is dangerous, your diet plan doesn't have to be.

wichita_reader 13 years, 1 month ago

Way off topic, but I thought Liberty would appreciate this story, if no one else does. I don't know how to put it through in link form, but here's the address to cut and paste.

wichita_reader 13 years, 1 month ago

Looks like it came through in link form. No thanks to me, though.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

ms_canada: I left a note for you at the end of yesterday's line.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

wichita_reader: where do you suppose I could get one of those applications :)

wichita_reader 13 years, 1 month ago

My best guess would be that you could pick any number of three-letter abbreviation federal agencies-ATF, FBI, DEA, CIA, and so forth.

christie 13 years ago

But it's a college town... B.S.

If you think 'bout it, all the cities listed with higher wages are college towns too...

ms_canada 13 years ago

huggy bear - I am not guilty of the removal business, except for the rotten one yesterday by jakstraw, about the soul of young soldier. But LJW did not remove it. I was almost sick to my stomach over that most tasteless post.

Ceallach 13 years ago

It is more than a little short-sighted to assume that one person is arbitrarily suggesting removals. Clicking the link merely calls the webmaster's attention to a given post. We have no reason to believe the request causes automatic removal.

I requested that 2005's final post to Carmenilla be removed (perhaps more than one person made the same request). Apparently when they viewed 2005's posts they decided to delete them all. Yes, people have a right to free speech. No, people do not have a right to subject everyone else to their psychotic episodes. 2005 was not having a "bad day." 2005 was having a melt down at everyone else's expense.

There are many other boards that allow such nonsense. This is the Lawrence Journal World's forum, not "our" board. If I go off the deep end, feel free to "suggest removal" and let the webmaster decide.

Until then, quit crying about who might be tattling.

Carmenilla 13 years ago

I hate that darn (suggest removal) button, hugs_and_kisses! I am not behind jack doodly squat. In fact, if you read yesterday's posts you will see that a comment I made was removed. I ain't into censorship. I'd rather duke it out with words, pilgrim ;-P

lunacydetector 13 years ago

merrill, i'm not talking about big box retailers. i'm talking about a place where people can open their own shop. i want to do it, have saved my pennies - a year's income, have a business plan, got approved for a line of credit to buy merchandise - now i need to find a place to open. there isn't any worth considering. they are hidden away or downtown. i'm not sold on downtown. i check demographics and traffic counts. downtown has 9,500 cars a day compared to 30,000 cars a day elsewhere. it doesn't justify the high rents downtown thus an increase in vacancies down there. i want to open a small shop. there isn't anything available. so what to do? wait for a business to fail in a good location, with an expected rent increase due to low supply, or go to another town?

Fangorn 13 years ago

[Briefly back to yesterday's topic. I had lunch at the new Ethiopian restaurant today. Different. Tasty. Definitely worth the effort. Although I'm not sure I really got the hang of picking up my food with my bread! Spongy stuff, that enjeera.]

ms_canada 13 years ago

Gee, fangorn, I am pleased to hear that you tried the Ethiopian. It takes a little getting used to with the injera thing. Someone, I think it was Carmenilla, spelled it that way yesterday and I do believe that she is right. We had a big tall Ethiopian fellow attend our church. He was a political refugee and our church helped him bring his wife and children over. A lovely family. Well, they opened a restaurant and I think they are doing very well. Mesfin and Aster Adugna. I loved those names. Mesfin had a very moving testimony to give on the torture he endured in Ethiopia. Lovely man. But we had been introduced to their food long before Mesfin appeared. My husband and I are quite adventurous in the food department. I really enjoyed yesterday's forum inspite of my situation. It is late and I do go on. Ceallach - left you a note on yesterday's forum.

ms_canada 13 years ago

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ, Moves on; nor all they Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Except the removal button.

squishypoet 13 years ago

The job situation here in Lawrence isn't the greatest, especially if you don't have a degree. My boyfriend has to work to live in an apartment, no family support, and pay his own way through college. The only jobs that hire are telemarketing... selling your soul for $12/hour.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.