Nature has an article, Pay for US postdocs varies wildly by institution. True, but as Matt Hahn, professor of biology at Indian University in Bloomington (cost of living 93% of the USA average) observed there isn’t any correction for cost of living. The researcher who dug through the data actually posted it online, so I decided to correct that oversight.
I took the institutions with N > 20, and looked up the cost of living in Best Places. The plot above is messy, but you can see that lots of institutions are paying a standard median salary of around $47,500, no matter the cost of living.
The correlation between cost of living and postdoc salary is 0.39. The weighted correlation is 0.48. These are pretty modest. That means you can find a really good situation, or a really bad one (also, institution reputation matters, there are some gems which pay well and have great reputations from what I can tell!).
Also, I’m pretty sure that the situation is worse than the numbers above suggest. Looking at the list of universities it seems there’s a bias for institutions at high cost of living locations not to want to report their salary data I think. Aside from UCSB the whole UC system denied the attempt to get data, and I don’t see Stanford, Columbia, or Harvard on the list.
The full table is below the fold, but adjusted for cost of living UCSB postdocs get $20,866 per year. In contrast, Michigan State, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Wayne State University postdocs make more than $60,000 per year when you adjust. Stanford isn’t on the list, but online it says Stanford postdocs make between the low $50,000 to low $60,000 range, which seems reasonable for life sciences, though definitely poverty wages where the university is located (though if you are in a lucrative field it can be more, and depending on your supervisor outside consulting is a possibility, though good luck living in Silicon Valley on a $100,000 yearly gross income if you have a family, as many postdocs do).