How much do DC's startup workers make compared to employees at other companies? - Technical.ly DC

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Aug. 1, 2016 12:36 pm

How much do DC’s startup workers make compared to employees at other companies?

Hint: The answer doesn't make D.C. look like a promising place to join a startup.

Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Flickr user Pedro Szekely, used under a Creative Commons license)

A post on the blog District, Measured, which belongs to D.C.’s Office of Revenue Analysis, got #DCTech talking last week.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the post showed the average monthly wage for a startup employee versus an employee of a more established company in D.C., as well as in New York, Seattle, Austin, Boston and San Francisco.

Comparative salary numbers. (Screenshot)

Comparative salary numbers. (Screenshot)

The big revelation — startup employees in D.C. make, on average, 61.2 percent of the salary of all other workers. This number is on the lower end of the spectrum compared with San Francisco, where startup employees make 73.2 percent of that other workers make and Austin, where the average startup salary is 76.5 percent that of the salary at any other company.

If you’re young (25 to 34) and therefore likely to be earning less in general, the parity between startups and established companies is greater, but not that great. D.C.’s 25-to-34-year-old startup employees make 72.7 percent that of their peers in established companies. In San Francisco, though, the young startup employees are making almost the same as their counterparts at other companies — 95.3 percent.

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So why are startup employees in D.C. making less, comparatively, than those in other startup hubs?

“The difference in pay ratios for startup pay likely reflects a more vibrant start up economy in San Francisco and Austin, compared to more traditional career paths in established financial and legal services firms in DC and NYC,” the post offers.

This, it goes on to note, could be due to the fact that there’s more venture funding, or more competition for talent, in San Francisco.

On Twitter one user drew this conclusion:

That, of course, is not precisely the narrative #DCTech likes to encourage. Still, it’s always worth remembering that working in a startup is risky. As the District, Measured post puts it: “Typically these companies do not have the deep pockets to pay salaries comparable to established companies and failure rates among startups tend to be higher than for established companies.”

However, the post goes on to note: “This may be a risk worth undertaking as the payoffs for working at start-up companies that eventually become successful can be significant, particularly in high tech companies that go public.”

If you’re someone who thinks the risk is worth it, General Assembly is hosting an event dedicated to finding your way to a job at a startup on Monday, Aug. 8.

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