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  Geographic Data Cuts in the United States

U.S. Geographic Data Data Cuts Our compensation geographic structure for the United States includes over 175 specific Geographic Locales summarized into seven Geographic Regions and five Geographic Pay Zones.

U.S. Geographic Locales

We provide compensation market rates for specific geographic locations, allowing you to more accurately price your jobs.

U.S. Geographic Locales in Culpepper Compensation Surveys are structured around the geographic classification system used by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Our compensation reports provide three types of Geographic Locale data cuts for the U.S.:

  1. Combined Statistical Areas (CSA)
    A Combined Statistical Area is a broad metro area containing multiple contiguous counties. CSAs combine adjacent geographic areas that share both economic and social ties and a moderate degree of employment interchange.

    Example:  MA: Boston-Worcester-Manchester CSA (i.e., Greater Boston Area)
  2. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA)
    A Metropolitan Statistical Area is a metro area economically linked to a core labor market. MSAs encompass areas consisting of a single county or group of counties that contain similar economic and social characteristics. MSAs are smaller than affiliated CSAs and more precise for geographic benchmarking.

    Example:  Boston-Cambridge MSA [US 2]
  3. Metropolitan Divisions (DIV)
    A Metropolitan Division is a locale within a large MSA. Divisions provide the most precise geographic pay rates within large metro areas.

    Example:  MA: Boston DIV [US 2]

Each step down, from Combined Statistical Area (CSA) to Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) to Metropolitan Division (DIV), provides a smaller and more precise Geographic Locale for benchmarking pay rates.

Data for each Geographic Locale is based on the work location of individual employees by zip code from participating companies. The number in brackets [X] appended to each Geographic Locale represents the corresponding U.S. Geographic Pay Zone.

View Graphical Representation of U.S. Geographic Locales  PDF

View List of Available Locales in the U.S.

U.S. Geographic Regions

Geographic Regions in Culpepper Compensation Surveys combine regional data from Geographic Locales and zip codes with similar pay rates. There are seven different zone-based Geographic Regions in the U.S.:

  • Midwest [X]
  • Non-Contiguous U.S. [X]
  • Northeast/Middle Atlantic [X]
  • Northwest [X]
  • Plains [X]
  • Southeast [X]
  • Southwest [X]

The number in brackets [X] appended to each Geographic Region represents the corresponding
U.S. Geographic Pay Zone.

Example:  Northeast/Middle Atlantic [US 2] provides an aggregate of locales in the Northeast/Middle Atlantic Geographic Region in U.S. Pay Zone 2.

U.S. Geographic Pay Zones

Geographic Pay Zones combine national data from Geographic Locales and zip codes with similar pay rates. They provide large geographic data cuts and are useful for organizations that want to create geographic pay differentials.

Pay Zones span the highest paying areas [Pay Zone 1] through the lowest paying areas [Pay Zone 5].

Example:  U.S. Pay Zone 2 provides an aggregate of all Geographic Locales and Geographic Regions
appended with [US 2].

Geographic locales and regions assigned to a pay zone may or may not be contiguous.

Example:  U.S. Pay Zone 1 includes CA: San Francisco and contiguous CA: Napa and CA: San Jose.
U.S. Pay Zone 1 also includes non-contiguous AK: Fairbanks.

Each step up, from Geographic Locale to Geographic Region to Pay Zone, provides a larger grouping of geographic data with similar pay rates.

Culpepper Geographic Pay Index (CGPI)

The Culpepper Geographic Pay Index (CGPI) is a geographic pay differential index that provides a relative comparison of the pay within a Geographic Locale to the national average.

CGPI calculations are based on cash compensation data submitted by participating companies for employees matching specific jobs in local markets (i.e., cost-of-labor).

The CGPI provides a reliable pay differential index by controlling for the unique job mix in each Geographic Locale. Comparisons are made between the pay for each job and the corresponding national average. The resulting values are then aggregated to produce a single CGPI score for each Locale. Locales are grouped into Geographic Pay Zones based on the CGPI Ranges shown in the table below.

Culpepper Geographic Pay Index (CGPI) Scores
by U.S. Pay Zone *
Pay Zone
CGPI Range
(% of U.S. National Average)
Pay Zone 1


Pay Zone 2

103.0 to 111.9%

Pay Zone 3

98.0 to 102.9%

Pay Zone 4

92.0 to 97.9%

Pay Zone 5

< 92.0%

* Compensation levels for specific jobs in local markets can vary and be impacted by a number of other factors, including company size, industry sector, talent availability, competition, cost of living, and health of local economies.

List of U.S. Geographic Locales

View List of Available Locales in the U.S.

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