RALEIGH – If you’re looking to earn a six-figure salary while living in city with a comparatively low cost of living, you might want to look at North Carolina.

That’s because the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan statistical area and the Charlotte metropolitan statistical area rank first and second in the nation for the share of workers who earn more than $100,000 annually in an area where the cost of living is lower than the national average, according to a new report.

Durham-Chapel Hill, meanwhile, ranked second in the ranks of mid-sized metros.

The Raleigh-Cary metropolitan statistical area, or Raleigh MSA, has a total of 74,860 employees who work in occupations that pay more than $100,000. That’s an 11.8% share of all 633,260 workers in the MSA, according to the report.

Nationally, 6.4% of workers are employed in an occupation that pays a six-figure salary, adjusted for inflation, according to the report.

In the Raleigh MSA, the average wage for employees who are working in occupations that pay more than $100,000 is $122,832, and money goes further, too.  The cost of living is 4.3% lower than the national average.

The Triangle labor market continues to heat up, despite concerns about the macroeconomic conditions in the United States and across the globe.  And even though the report notes that the region is more affordable compared to other similar regions, inflation is still affecting North Carolina households.  For example, the Raleigh MSA experienced a 16.4% year-over-year increase in the median rental price as of September, twice the inflation rate measured in the U.S. economy in that period.

Looking for work? Triangle jobs market heats up despite recession fears

Charlotte ranks 2nd

In the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia region, which includes some portions of South Carolina, there are 141,090 employees who work in occupations that pay greater than $100,000 of the nearly 1.21 million workers in the region, a share of 11.7%, according to the report.

And the average wage in the region is $124,459 for those who work in occupations that pay more than $100,000 annually – that’s higher than the average wages in the Raleigh MSA.  More good news: The cost of living in the region is 5.4% lower than the national average.

These tech jobs pay more than $100,000 – here’s how many are available in NC

Durham-Chapel Hill ranked 2nd for mid-size metros

The study, conducted by FilterBuy, also found that the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area performed well in the analysis of affordable regions of the United States where the share of workers who earn six-figure annual salaries reside.

How well?

Durham-Chapel Hill ranked second, following Huntsville, Ala., which finished first for mid-sized metropolitan statistical areas.

The Durham-Chapel Hill MSA saw a 15.3% share of its workforce employed in occupations that pay salaries of $100,000 or greater.

Durham, Raleigh crack top 10 metros in new tech innovation study

Technology and innovation

While there are jobs and occupations that pay six-figure salaries outside of tech roles, software developers lead the nation in the total number of workers who earn $100,000 or more in annual salary, the report found.

Across the nation, there are 1.3 million workers in the field, which is projected to expand by 26% by 2031, according to a blog post that ran with the report’s release.

The three North Carolina metropolitan statistical areas that ranked highly among the survey far outperform the national average.  That’s in part because they  rank highly in the most recent Tech Innovation Index, which was released by NC TECH earlier this week.

Of the 110 metropolitan regions in the NC TECH analysis, three ranked in the top 30 overall: Durham, Raleigh and Charlotte.

North Carolina was one of only two states where three metropolitan statistical areas ranked among the top 30, which report author Ted Abernathy noted was indicative of the state’s strong innovation economy in an exclusive Q&A with WRAL TechWire.

Why these 3 NC metros rank among top 30 in nation for tech innovation – a Q&A