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The Bay Area offers software engineers a career growth trajectory that other places simply don't.

That $140k number might be a reasonable 50th percentile for what a junior engineer would make at a startup in the Bay Area, but compensation can increase quite a bit after several years in the industry, especially for engineers who move to large companies which give stock compensation. They will far outpace the earnings growth of engineers elsewhere.

It's much easier to achieve that kind of career trajectory in places with high concentrations of tech companies, e.g. the Bay Area and Seattle.

That makes things look even better for St Louis and Minneapolis type places. Startups in BA can't even hire juniors for $140k while if they pay $100k in St Louis they will have people jumping at a chance.

Now I'm sure the BA people average better but somebody in the top 5% from St Louis is going to be pretty good.

Note: I'm from Auckland, New Zealand and $US 100k would be a very good salary.

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