So, What’s a Good Raise Right Now?
Inflation changes the math of pay raises
Most Americans won’t get a big enough raise this year to keep up with inflation.
With consumer prices up 8.6% in May compared with a year ago, it’s hard to know what counts as a decent bump in salary. As higher prices for gas, food, and rent eat into our budgets, consumers are having to recalibrate the notion of value for nearly everything they buy. The same is true for the value of work, especially in a tight labor market where strong job growth and a 3.6% unemployment rate have prompted companies to spend to retain employees.
For a baseline, it helps to consider a typical raise.
As of May 2022, the median annual wage growth for employees who stay at their jobs was 4.5%, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Though that figure is higher than the 3% to 4% raises people were getting in 2019 before the pandemic, it doesn’t come close to keeping up with inflation, said Nick Bunker, head of research for Indeed.com, the job listings website.
根据亚特兰大联邦储备银行（Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta）的最新数据，截至2022年5月，没换工作的员工薪资增幅中位数为4.5%。招聘网站Indeed.com的研究主管尼克·邦克尔（Nick Bunker）说，新冠疫情前，2019年的这一数字为3%至4%，尽管目前的增幅更大，但仍远远赶不上通胀的步伐。
“There’s nothing stopping you from asking for a raise at pace with inflation,” he said. “But there’s no guarantee you’ll get one,” Mr. Bunker said.
Companies have increased budgets for merit-based pay raises this year. A Conference Board survey in December found employers set aside an average of 3.9% of total payroll for wage increases in 2022, the most since 2008. To retain employees, other companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. have also offered extra wage increases or one-time bonuses.
企业今年已经增加了基于员工绩效的加薪预算。世界大型企业联合会（Conference Board）去年12月的一项调查显示，用人单位2022年为加薪预留出的资金在发放工资总额中所占比重平均为3.9%，这一比例为2008年以来的最高水平。为留住员工，埃克森美孚（Exxon Mobil Corp.）、普信集团（T. Rowe Price Group Inc.）等企业还提供了额外的加薪机会，或是发放了一次性奖金。
By starting with 4.5% as a benchmark, workers should seek specifics about their industry and their performance to determine what might qualify as a good raise.
Yet disentangling Covid-era price increases and other factors from the core inflation rate doesn’t add up to “one magic number,” said Ruth Thomas, who handles pay equity at Payscale, a compensation software company.
Individuals are better off trying to calculate their own personal rate of inflation to understand how large a raise it would take to break even, much less gain purchasing power.
Ms. Thomas said it helps to compare pay ranges for similar roles and find out what others at your level of experience are earning. Increasingly, companies are sharing salary ranges when posting listings for open roles. More than 25% of all job postings shared on LinkedIn now include salary information, according to the company.
To gauge a given raise, ask your boss or HR how the company arrived at the number it’s offering this year, said Ms. Thomas.
“If I was asking for a pay raise internally, I would be wanting to ask some key questions,” she said. “‘How do you benchmark my salary to market?’ and ‘Is there a pay range for my role if I wanted to increase my pay?’ ‘What would I have to do to increase my pay?’”
If larger merit raises aren’t on the table – and may not be as companies are looking to conserve cash in the current market – companies may be willing to offer spot bonuses, one-time payments to recognize performance or boost retention.
Changing jobs is another option. Those who changed roles or employers in the past three months saw 6% wage growth, compared with the 4.5% for those who stayed at the same job, according to the Atlanta Fed.
Employers are placing a premium on recruiting new talent – and many are paying for it, too. Big pay jumps are usually associated with new roles or promotions, as those bring expanded scopes of authority or responsibility, said Hannah Bowles, senior lecturer in public policy and management at Harvard University.
雇主们很重视招聘新人才——许多雇主愿意在这方面花钱。哈佛大学（Harvard University）公共政策与管理学高级讲师汉娜·鲍尔斯（Hannah Bowles）说，大幅加薪通常与新职位或晋升联系在一起，因为它们意味着比以往更大的权威或责任。
“I’m hearing from people who aren’t jumping ship and they are saying ‘Look at the rates at which these folks are coming in!’” Prof. Bowles said.
Though raises can be higher when jumping ship, staying with your current employer can make you more valuable in the long run if you can deepen a skill set or learning new ways to advance, Prof. Bowles said. So as awkward as a transparent conversation about pay may initially feel, understanding how your company establishes these benchmarks will benefit you.
“Think about ‘How am I setting myself up, not just in this moment, but over a longer time horizon?’” she said. “It’s critical to think of the bundle of attributes you’re trading off. Money is one of them, but if you’re focused on long-term earnings, set yourself up for occupational advancement.”