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Queens wages grew faster than all but Ga. county

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Queens workers saw their paychecks grow an average of 12.7 percent from $783 to $883, outpaced only by Clayton County in Georgia, which recorded a staggering 87 percent wage increase from $725 to $1,358.Queens's average weekly wage was $883, exceeding the national average of $820. Manhattan again led the nation, with an average weekly wage of $1,540. The other three boroughs' average weekly earnings clocked in below the national average: $805 for the Bronx, $733 for Staten Island and $714 for Brooklyn.Queens also led New York's large counties in terms of employment growth, tying with Saratoga County at 2.3 percent.Andy Beveridge, a demographer and professor at Queens College, said the figure is good news for Queens, but warned against reading too much into the figure."The only data you have is that there's growth," he said. "It's hard to tell where the growth is coming from."It is possible that the borough's two airports are stimulating the transportation sector, Beveridge said.According to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, LaGuardia Airport employed more than 8,000 people in 2006 and generated nearly $11 billion in economic activity in the metropolitan area. John F. Kennedy International Airport employed about 35,000 people in 2006, generating about $28 billion in economic activity throughout the metropolitan area.But Beveridge attributed much of the increase to "the vibrancy of the various components of the Queens economy.""On one hand, you've got a lot of new construction in western Queens that's sort of oriented to Manhattan. Then you have fairly brisk growth in places like Bayside," he said.Between new white collar jobs emerging in places like Long Island City and the number of Queens contractors employed by projects all over the borough, "The Home Depot in Queens was so busy they had to build another one near it," Beveridge said. "It was the busiest Home Depot in the United States until they built the second one."Another shortcoming of the statistics is the lack of information about a median salary, which Beveridge said is a better indicator of the general wage level."You could have the average going up just because a bunch of rich people got paid more," he said.According to the U.S. Census's 2006 American Community Survey, the median family income for Queens County was $57,333, a number not entirely comparable to that found by the federal Labor Statistics Bureau statistics, which represent individual earnings, and include the wages of people who work in the borough but live elsewhere. The average family size in Queens was 3.52 people, according to the Census study.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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