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MetLife Charlotte jobs to pay much less than those in Cary

MetLife on Wednesday laid out the average salaries it will pay at its new hubs in Charlotte and Cary – and the average Charlotte salary will be about half that of the Cary hub.

Charlotte will be the site for the New York-based insurance company’s U.S. retail operations, with 1,386 jobs at Ballantyne Corporate Park. Cary will be the site of a global technology and operations hub, also employing about 1,300.

On Monday, MetLife spokeswoman Meghan Lantier told the Observer the Charlotte jobs will pay about $58,000 on average, while the Cary jobs would pay roughly $80,000 on average. Lantier on Wednesday revised the Cary number, saying those jobs will pay $112,000 on average, nearly double the Charlotte figure.

At $58,000, the average Charlotte salary will be just barely above $57,144, which the N.C. Commerce Department says is the average wage for Mecklenburg County.

In Charlotte, the company plans to hire people for the division that sells individual life insurance policies and annuities, said Eric Steigerwalt, executive vice president of U.S. retail for MetLife, who is moving to Waxhaw to oversee the Charlotte hub. A variety of positions are expected to be housed in the Charlotte hub, including those in sales, product development, marketing, finance, compliance and legal.

MetLife hasn’t disclosed the full range of its Charlotte salaries.

MetLife can receive up to about $89 million in state incentives, including $87.2 million in a state Job Development Investment Grant. To qualify for the incentives, MetLife must pay its N.C. workers an average salary of $65,513. The company has said its average N.C. salary will be about $80,000.

The company also has been approved for $2.9 million in incentives from the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Pat Cotham, chairwoman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, said that when the request for incentives was presented to commissioners, she focused less on the average salaries that would be paid in the state and more on MetLife’s promise that the employees in Charlotte would be given advancement opportunities. She said she’s optimistic about the company’s move to Charlotte.

“The upside on this is so huge,” she said. “It kind of gives the signal to other big companies that you need to go to North Carolina.”

In picking Cary, over Charlotte, for the higher-paying tech jobs, the proximity to the Research Triangle made it attractive, Steigerwalt said.

“The idea that Raleigh has a real reputation for technology certainly was high” on MetLife’s priority list, he said. He described the Cary jobs as “programming.”

MetLife officials say they still don’t know how many of the company’s employees will be relocated to North Carolina, so it remains unclear how many of the jobs will go to residents already living in the state.

The company has not yet announced its Cary location.

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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