the average salary increase is pretty low

The average salary increase for 2011 was 2.8%. So if you earn $40,000 (the average income in the U.S.), that’s a raise of $1,120.

But you’re not average, of course, so what do you get? Top performers had a barely different median increase: 3.1%.

I mention this here largely because I think most people have no idea what kind of raise is reasonable to expect or ask for … and it’s useful to know the average raise is pretty low. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get significantly more if you’re hugely valuable to your employer; you often can. But it’s good to know these numbers for context.

{ 60 comments… read them below }

  1. Kelly O*

    I think that’s been one of the biggest discouragements in recent years – the salary increases are minimal, and cost of living has grown exponentially in comparison.

    From my own perspective, just the gas increases have made things more difficult. We’ve learned to adjust, but I have fond memories of my Daddy giving me $10 and that being enough to fill my car up in high school. That’ll be my walking uphill to school story for my daughter one of these days.

    1. Anonymous*

      Ditto, except my drought is 5 years running. My boss blames the economy and claims that we’re not bringing in as much. In reality, he has no basis for this–last year alone we made enough to run the business without the need for additional income for the entirety of this year. He doesn’t oversee such things (I happen to have that job) and business has actually been improving despite the economy. He simply chooses to overlook that fact.

      1. ew0054*

        I ask you both respectfully, why are you still at the same job?

        I understand there are reasons, life situations, etc. But if you are truly worth more, and the current job is not paying after a 3-5 year track record of taking you for granted, it is time to move on.

  2. Anonymous*

    The first raise that I received from my current company was 20%, the latest (with a slightly increased workload) is just over 45%; while I certainly won’t complain about the raises themselves, the seeming capriciousness at which my manager increases employees’ salaries is a bit worrisome, in its own right.

    1. Anonymous*

      Ditto on the wage freeze. The sad thing is when raises eventually start again it will probably be back at 2-3%. Companies aren’t going to give a 10% raise to make up for the past few years. Same goes for cuts in 401K matching and increases in benefit costs. Those will be even slower to come back and the losses from the past few years will be gone forever.

  3. Anon*

    In the last 7 years my lowest raise was 8.67% and the highest was 42% (with a promotion). The most recent was 24.79%.

    Overall I’m up 41.56% with my current employer and I’m still significantly under market.

    I’m not posting this to refute Alison’s stats – her numbers are correct – but to send a cautionary tale to everyone looking for new jobs in 2012.

    The negotiation coming in the door is what REALLY matters. If you start off significantly under market, even with good raises it’s impossible to close the gap. Because to get the good raises you have to perform and increase your responsibility. So as the job changes, so does your market rate.

    Know what you’re worth going in, and if you have to take a lower salary because you really need a job (been there) know that you may have to jump companies at some point to get back where you should be. Because employers look at the above percentages and think they have given awesome increases – but the memory of how cheap you came initially fades quickly.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes. I’ve never had a raise as low as these averages either, but they’re the averages. Your job is to be so far above average that you don’t need to worry about the median!

      1. Gene*


        Small thing to most people, but you keep conflating average and median. They are VERY different things. Average is the sum of all values divided by the number of values while median is the value such that half of the values are greater than that value and half are less than it.

        Take the following number set: 1, 5, 7, 10, and 50.

        The average of that set (1+5+7+10+50)/5 is 14.6.
        The median value is 7.

        Medians can be higher, lower or equal to the average, it all depends on the data set. But using it accounts for outlying values in the data set (the 50 in this case.) It’s commonly used in things like salaries or home values because it prevents the CEO’s salary or Bill Gates’ house from skewing things. I imagine that why the article referenced used medians.

        A pet peeve. And let’s not get me started on accuracy and precision…

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I was actually very aware of the difference when writing, and I think what I’ve written here is correct, but I am admittedly too lazy to go back now and double check the original research I linked to :)

          1. Jamie*

            Alison is correct – the article is using a median average.

            One small correction to Gene – because I truly cannot help it – but a median is an average. What you defined as an “average” is – but it’s a mean average.

            Median is the middle number (equal number of items above and below).
            Mode is the number/unit which appears most often.
            Mean is summing all numbers and dividing by the total.

            1. Gene*

              Well, the title of the post (the average salary increase is pretty low) and article you linked to like this, “The average salary increase for 2011 was 2.8%.” states:

              “Global consulting firm Hay Group‘s latest 2010 U.S. Salary Budget Spot Survey now says that U.S. employees can expect median base salary increases of 2.8 percent this year,”

              And Jamie is correct, what I called an average is in fact an arithmetic mean. Average does not have an actual definition in stastics, while in mathematics is defined as a single number used to represent the significance of a group of numbers (with multiple ways to calculate said number), and in common use is usually defined as arithmetic mean. I could have totally confused almost everyone and thrown in the geometric mean, but that mean would be meaningless to most people; much less the harmonic mean. :-)

              1. Under Stand*

                I agree, if you are going to fuss about wanting us to know the difference between mean and median, you must put the standard deviation with the mean. Otherwise your numbers are meaningless.

                Median is an average and as such is a perfectly valid translation.

  4. Anonymous*

    I have a question if you don’t mind answering…

    I’m a salaried employee who makes a substantial amount more with overtime pay. At my next (and first) promotion, should I expect my raise to come from my salaried amount or my actual pay? Once I leave my current position I will no longer be elligible for overtime pay, and I’m concerned that I’ll end up making less than I am now. Thanks!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These raise numbers refer to raises within your current job. You’re being promoted, so it’s a different ballgame. However, you should absolutely use as a negotiation point the fact that you won’t take a paycut (once the absence of overtime is factored in) for having increased responsibilities!

      1. JT*

        There are huge and growing splits in the U.S. economy, which averages tend to cover. Wages are probably growing the least at the lower ends, due to high unemployment among young people and people w/o college educations.

    2. Josh S*

      If I read you correctly, your compensation looks like this currently:

      Base pay (salary): $50k
      Overtime: $10k
      Total: $60k

      You’re looking at a promotion, and are wondering what the ‘raise’ that comes with it is based on. Either:

      Total Pay: $60k + 5% = $63k
      Base Pay: $50k + 5% = $52.5k

      Most companies I’ve worked for base any raises on your base pay (salary). So I’m thinking that you’re looking at scenario 2, and your new base pay will be $52.5k. That would be pretty decent, except that you no longer get paid for overtime work. Which means, in essence, you’re taking a pay cut.

      Whenever you discuss this ‘promotion’ with your boss, be sure to work these numbers. Tell them that you’re not able to accept a promotion unless your *total compensation* is equivalent (or greater) than your current base + OT pay.

      Because otherwise you’re taking a pay cut in exchange for more responsibility.

        1. Kristinyc*

          Yes, I have co-workers who were promoted from an hourly (+overtime) to a salary position where the job was almost the same, and it was just a title change. They ended up making lower salaries since they were no longer getting overtime. You should definitely have numbers ready so that you can negotiate a comparable new salary. And congrats!

      1. Dawn*

        I would say scenario 2 is the way the employer will most likely go. My husband is entitled to overtime and each raise is a percentage of his base salary.

  5. anon-2*

    Anon- made a great point, that it is ALWAYS good to get what you can when you start.

    If you have another position, it gives you leverage in that area. Your new (potential) employer has to provide you with some incentive to make the move. Politically, it’s easier for him/her to do it during the negotiation phase , than it is when you are already employed.

    I was in a company once, where the management had two policies
    2) ANY REQUESTS FOR RAISES SHOULD BE REPLIED TO WITH “THERE’S NO MONEY IN THE BUDGET, IT’S NOT POSSIBLE” — but leave the door open “well, maybe we could work toward that, next year”…

    Now, in reality — there was an off-budget “slush fund” that could be used for emergency increases. They had some goofball name for it, “retention incentive repository” or something like that, but most companies will set some money aside for that purpose.

    And, they already had counter-offers prepared for critical employees. I resigned and at first, the manager tried to say “well, next year” — I retorted that “the promotion and raise were already eight months overdue and we had a discussion about it three months ago and you promised to submit it at that time. A deferral of it again, well, it’s not acceptable.”

    He asked = “What are you saying?”

    “Your opportunity for negotiation ends when I get up from this chair and leave this room.”

    He then retrieved the counter offer from his file cabinet and that the promotion and increase (not large, but good) would be effective immediately.

    Also, remember that “policy” is just something that someone wrote down. Quite often “policies” can be worked around, or ignored if it’s for the good of the company.

    1. Anonymous*

      Just a note, as an HR professional, my approach to this type of ‘negotiation’ strategy is to give you the counter and immediately start looking for your replacement. So be careful with this type of ultimatum strategy.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — lots of smart managers won’t make counteroffers and lots of smart employees won’t accept them. After all, the thing that drove you to leave in the first place is still there, and if it takes a new offer to get your employer to pay you what you’re worth, there’s a problem there. So using a counteroffer to get more money from your current employer is a risky strategy; they may call your bluff.

        1. SAN*

          AAM, I’m in general agreement but with a place like Anon-2, I don’t think they’d qualify as “smart managers”. They lie to their employees and have a firefighting fund to deal with the squeaky wheels and praying critical employees won’t decide to take off in the middle of a mission critical project (which they’d deserve if Anon-2 is accurate about their management style). Very much a definition of a reactive management style.

            1. ew0054*

              So why don’t employers pay their fair share? Rather than trying to find ways to keep paying workers as little as possible, they should treat their workers fairly because if not for the workers, the bosses would not be rich. This is what nobody seems to understand, collectively I mean. It is our work that enables these big people to throw their weight around like this. They are nothing without us!

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Because “fair share” is determined by the market rate for your skills — what the market will pay you. If they are nothing without you, then feel free to start your own business and prove that. Otherwise, your pay rate is what the market rate for your skills is.

  6. Marie*

    I’m just under 30, and I’ve been working since I was 15. In that time, I have never received a raise, not even a cost-of-living increase. I’ve always had very good reviews, followed by something like “unfortunately, our budget does not allow for an increase at this time, and your health insurance rates have increased.” The only increases in pay I’ve gotten have been from taking a new job with a higher starting salary. Of course, the higher starting salary is only so high, relatively — the longer I stay at a job with a frozen salary, the more likely a potential employer will look at my previous wage and offer me the lowest end of their starting pay scale — so my creep up the wage ladder has been very slow indeed.

    This has led to a pretty significant generation gap between me and my older coworkers, concerning our values and attitudes about work. My older colleagues still view wage freezes as temporary emergency measures that will work out eventually, and it’s best to be loyal to your workplace and ride it out. For me, it’s a big risky game. Do I stay at this job hoping the wage will eventually unfreeze? What if it’s been four years and what was a good starting wage is now, with inflation, barely a living wage? By next year, will my cost-of-living increase so much that I won’t be able to pay my bills with this job? And, too, my older colleagues’ wages got frozen at a much higher level than mine did, so they can afford to view this as more of a passing phase they can ride out than I can.

    The upshot of this is that I’m more willing to work towards job goals I have that scared me before. The career I would really love the most is in a non-profit field, and will likely never pay me very much. I’ve always been discouraged from pursuing that field, comparing my lifetime pay at my dream job vs. other work. If I had the lure of good steady pay at a job I didn’t exactly love, I’d probably never pursue my dream work. But since good steady pay hasn’t ever been an option for me, and I am cynical about the prospect of it ever being an option for younger workers, I figure this is my opportunity to go for the work I love without being afraid of the future wages it’ll cost me.

    1. Kim Stiens*

      “What if it’s been four years and what was a good starting wage is now, with inflation, barely a living wage? By next year, will my cost-of-living increase so much that I won’t be able to pay my bills with this job?”

      While I think this generational gap is an interesting idea, I’m a bit perplexed by the math. I just don’t see how a “good” salary goes to “barely covering expenses” in the span of 4 years (and definitely not in one, as you seem to claim). I mean, yeah, shit happens, but that’s not inflation. If your wages are such that, after a year of just inflation (not intentional increases in your standard of living) you went from having a “good starting wage” to barely making ends meet, your standard of a good wage seem shaky. If you expect your wages to go up enough every year that you can see a noticeable increase in your standard of living, that seems unreasonable.

      Am I wrong on this? I’ve been buying my own food and paying my rent for more than four years now, and I just don’t see how those price increases could possibly take a job with a “good” salary and turn it into something you felt like you had to leave in order to make ends meet.

      1. Piper*

        I suppose if the cost of gas went up significantly (it has), rent in her apartment has increased each year (highly possible), and the cost of food and utilities have increased (they have), this is a credible scenario. Albeit the idea of “good” is loose term here, but say that 4 years ago someone had discretionary income of $500. Increased in gas, rent, utilities, and food could easily tighten that gap to much less.

      2. Marie*

        I guess I wasn’t particularly clear. This is a bit of a bottled-up rant that I don’t let out much, because I’m doing fairly well, relatively, so it doesn’t seem legitimate to complain that I’m not making more or getting enough raises when so many people would kill to have a job at all. So it’s a little less than clear when I do let it out.

        So, when I say “good” wages, I didn’t really define what I meant by that at all. I make enough money right now to survive without terrible stress and have some creature comforts. That’s one definition of “good” pay, and I certainly have it. I don’t expect inflation to increase so very much that I’ll be losing this anytime soon.

        When I talk about “good” wages, I’m talking about financial stability over the long-term, and the ability to have money to invest in large purchases. Stalled wages, with inflation, mean an ever-diminishing income, which means more money goes toward day-to-day survival and less toward future investments. That means while I’m doing okay now, my future is looking more and more unstable.

        While I make good enough wages, I’ve never made industry standard for my work, education, and experience. There’s never been an opportunity for that, as everywhere I’ve worked has been belt-tightening. That belt-tightening doesn’t hit the older, more experienced workers — they started at industry-standard and received standard raises, and are now making comfortable pay. Their wages aren’t reduced (and I’m not saying I’m for wage reduction, that’s a bad way to go), so I’ve found the belt-tightening hits the newer, younger workers more, by hiring them at much less than usual. That affects all my future capital — if my raises are going to be based on my current pay, starting at a lower pay means lost wages over the years. If I’m making NO raises, then I’m really losing a lot, starting at less-than-industry-standard and dropping further and further below that standard every year.

        That doesn’t mean I’m not comfortable or can’t survive today, but when I project my accumulation of wages into my future, I see a lot of money and benefits that I’m losing and may never recover. And with the economy as it is, that’s very scary to me. Most of us could be said to be only one crisis away from a bad financial run, but for me, it would only need to be a very small crisis. In ten years, I don’t want to be at that same exact level of financial instability — I want to be able to withstand smaller crises the older I get.

        For example, right now, I’m making 40k. There haven’t been raises at my place of employment for four years. There likely won’t be for another four years. There’s also no opportunity for advancement currently — we have a hiring freeze. So there’s no possibility of being promoted into higher pay (which is one way I’ve gotten “raises” in the past from employers who wanted to retain me but couldn’t offer a raise). This also means that if a job vacates in my department, it’s very possible that we’ll be asked to cover that work for the same pay. (I should note that this has been the situation everywhere I’ve worked so far — no raises, on-and-off hiring freezes, do more with less, etc. I suppose it’s not that way somewhere, but I haven’t yet been there).

        I started this job with 1 year left of the “four years without raises” cycle, and now we’re going to enter another four years. So, by the time I’m 34, I will still be making 40k, though I may also have taken on extra duties.

        If raises hadn’t been frozen, and assuming I would’ve been making that 2.8% average, I should be getting close to 45k at the end of that five years. If hiring freezes weren’t in place, I could potentially have gotten a promotion and be making even more than that.

        That’s a big loss of money for me. I probably won’t be any less able to survive comfortably, but that’s money that could’ve been used to create savings, make a down payment on a house, buy a used car, get further education, feel comfortable enough financially to have a child, make investments, etc., all things I can’t do on my current wages, and will continue to be unable to do if these wages persist.

        If the raises are unfrozen at the end of that five years, I’ll be starting much later things that really need time as much as money to bear fruit, such as savings or investments. So I’ve lost money, but I’ve also lost some of the time I needed to make that money work for me.

        This also means that if I go looking for new, better-paying work, a new employer is going to take my 40k wages (instead of 45k) into consideration when offering me my wages. I know not all employers do this — some have ranges that are set no matter what the potential employee was making before — but during this recession, I haven’t yet met those employers. I’ve gone in for multiple interviews where the job description said the wages were “dependent on experience,” and then been told in the interview that while I had all the experience they needed, they have a new policy that everybody starts out at the lowest end of the salary range.

        This has also meant that job-hopping is an option that makes a lot of fiscal sense, though it’s usually something that’s advised against. I will lose less money over time if I take a 42k job in two or three years than if I show consistency and loyalty at a job that will only (maybe) bump me up to 41k after five years. If that 42k job also won’t give raises, and there’s also no chance for promotion, then it again makes fiscal sense for me to find a 44k job in another two or three years instead of staying — the longer I stay is more wages lost not only at that job, but potentially at another job that will offer me lower pay to start with once I start job-hunting again. (Here I should note that I’ve kept in contact with my coworkers at the jobs I left for higher pay, and none of those jobs have started offering raises yet. So while I feel bad for the job-hopping in some respects, because I know it looks bad, I have to say it was the right risk to take — I could still be making 30k otherwise, which is exactly what I was afraid of).

        So, for me, I’m looking ahead and seeing a future of consistently underpaid work, meaning a lot of lost money and a lot of lost time. The longer I stay at a stalled wage, that’s time lost where I could’ve looked for a job with higher pay, and put more into savings, and acquired a higher wage to build on in future job hunts. That doesn’t mean I can’t survive comfortably today, but it does mean that options for financial security in my future are diminishing. I can’t form savings, buy a house, buy a car, double my payments on my student loans, “dress for the job I want,” or make a variety of investments young people are always being told to make.

        Now, if I REALLY REALLY liked my work — if I was involved in a field that really met my passions, or a workplace that was just fantastic — job satisfaction might make up for my wages. And if I already had some capital that ensured my future security, I also wouldn’t care so much. My older coworkers, for example, aren’t happy about the freeze on raises, but they’ve already bought a house, gotten all the education they wanted, have a savings account, have a long history of good credit, have a car, have accounts for their children’s future college educations, etc. So, while some of the gains they could make from interest on those financial pieces are stalled, my ability to even collect those financial pieces is put off to an unknown future date.

        So, yes, my wages are “good” as far as my day-to-day life is concerned, and a few years inflation won’t make a significant difference there. But when it comes to my future, or the future of children I would like to someday have, my “good” wage today is a significant chunk of lost money in a few years, and overtime, those chunks are going to add up to quite a lot, enough to make a large difference in the quality of my life.

        1. Lesley*

          Wow, Marie, I could have written this. I’m in the same place. I like my job, and I loved my old job, but the pay rate was really stagnate, and I feel years behind where I should be financially because there just haven’t been many raises in my career. My last year at my old company I got a promotion and a raise–3%. With my previous promotion (where I went from hourly to salaried) I didn’t get a raise at all, so like the previous poster who commented on the loss of overtime pay, I was actually making less for a few years. I loved the job and the company, so I stayed for a long time, but the pay was ultimately why I left.
          It’s incredibly frustrating. I feel like I should be at the point where I don’t have to live like a new graduate anymore, but costs (gas, rent, food) are going up more quickly than my pay.

          1. khilde*

            Ditto to both of you. I’m 31 and work for state government. We have had our pay raises frozen for the last three years and are looking like we’ll get one this year. I’m in the same boat. My husband and I both make enough to meet our daily expenses (which is fairly pared down. No cable, no DVR, no car payments, no consumer debt, modest mortgage, etc). So we have enough for the dailies, along with a very basic level of savings for retirement, emergency fund, and college for our daughter. But I fully empathized with what you said about not being able to save up for the larger purchases. My husband figures that over the past several years of hiring freezes, we have lost out on nearly $7000.. Now we’re that much further behind in our purchasing power. We prefer to save up for the big expenses (such as building a shed for storage, updating the kitchenn, etc.), but how is this going to happen when we we’ve lost that time.

            Anyway. I’m sure there’s another side to this I haven’t considered. I do enjoy my job and there are MANY other intangible benefits that makes this job worth it. But it’s interesting to hear someone my own age echo a thought that had been rattling around in my head.

        2. NicoleW*

          I also could have written this whole post. I’m 30, I’ve been with the same company for 7 years, been promoted 3 times, and make $38k.
          We’ve had wage freezes for over 2 years, and now we are 1 year into a wage decrease (-4% for me). They stopped 401k match without notifying employees and our health insurance costs went up with MUCH less coverage. So like a lot of other people in recent years, our buying power has diminished and our work loads have increased.
          It’s frustrating, but there’s not much we can do except find a new job, negotiate and hope they don’t have wage freezes.

  7. Manage Better Now*

    Your numbers are right on. Aside from being almost exactly what my company is doing this year, I also have the benefit of working with a lot of Fortune 500 companies that are in the same ballpark. If we could just get CEO compensation packages in this range, then the world would be a better place.

  8. Tami*

    Thank you for posting this. It really is difficult to know if the raise you’re being offered is “good” or not. I shared this info with my husband – who got a 5% raise this year. It made him happy.

  9. Anonymous*

    My wage increase is a -5%! Why? Union contracts. They couldn’t save that 5% when negotiating with the company, and therefore, all of us union members (whether we want to be union or not, which is a whole other story) got pay cuts! I’m pretty much back to where I started. They say it was either that percentage or jobs, but they also cut back on various benefits, including but not limited to vacation time, personal days, etc.

    What a way to end 2011!

  10. Tara*

    As a government employee I received a 1 year “step” raise of slightly less than 4%. I would have to assume that study did not include government employees.

  11. Marie*

    @Tara: It surely could have. I also work for the government, and in my state, wages for government employees have been frozen for four years, and with the way this legislative session is going, it looks like they’ll be frozen for at least another two. Some managers — trying to retain good workers — have gotten creative and rewritten job descriptions to get the small wage increase that comes with a minimal promotion, but the higher-ups got wise to that, and we’ve had a hiring freeze for the last two years.

  12. nev*

    I’m also in my mid-twenties and have been working since I was 15. I’ve never gotten a raise except when switching jobs or (in high school) switching shifts. I have occasionally gotten ‘bonuses’, but very small ones – $100-$200.

    My husband has worked for a large international company for several years and received a 5% bonus each year. That’s as high as his manager can give, for good performance – his co-workers received 1.2%-3%. But like others have said, even 5% has hardly been enough to keep up with cost of living, and he’s now at the very bottom of the pay scale for his industry. He’s looking into switching companies, and has had interviews for similar positions offering 50-60% more.

    1. Piper*

      I’m in my early 30s and I have received minimal raises despite “outstanding” reviews as well. When I was working as a teenager, I did receive raises then as a cashier in a grocery store, etc. But the only raise I’ve received as a working adult was a 2.5% raise at my previous employer (whom I worked for for 4 years), only to have it taken away the following year when everyone company-wide received a 5% pay cut. When I left the company, I was actually making less than when I started.

      I went to a startup after that and the pay was about 75% under market for what I was doing. They actually wanted to pay me $10,000 less than I had been making at my previous job. I negotiated up so that I was making $3,000 more when in reality, I should have been making much, much, much more than that. At my current job, I got a huge pay increase from my previous job when I started, but no raise since.

      Really, the only way I’ve ever significantly increased my pay was to find another job. And it’s only now that I’m being paid my true market value for what I bring to the table.

      1. Piper*

        Erm…the raise wasn’t at my immediate previous employer (just to be clear). It was two employers ago. I realized upon re-read that it was a bit ambiguous.

  13. anonymous*

    Yeah. I actually fell behind. Raises this year were pitiful, but I also opted to upgrade my dental plan, and my medical went up a little bit. LOL!

    WHAT raise? ;)

  14. Anonymous*

    With regards to these pathetically small salary increases, I’m thinking of something not many bloggers are discussing in this economy. Because of these awful salaries, many if not the majority of people have to have an additional job to make ends meet. I just graduated college and was lucky enough to find a (temp) job immediately…but had to keep my other full- time job because it is stable and has benefits. Between the two of them I am making it…but there’s another reason the unemployment rate is so high! Because in order for me to pay my bills, I have to take up 2 full time jobs.
    It would be an interesting post to discuss- there are a lot of people in my situation.

  15. vee*

    I have asked for and gotten raises for my team members that earned them and not tiny raises either. One of my team earned about a 6k raise another is due for a 6k raise and I myself just got a 6k raise. In all three cases they were hard earned raises. And yes we work for a great employer.

  16. Emily K*

    If we’re to use this information to inform our negotiations for salary increase, it would be more helpful to know what the average salary increase is among those who receive increases. My suspicion is that a huge cluster of $0 increases is dramatically tugging the average downward. If the average is 2.8% because 25% of the workforce got a 0% increase, the other 75% who actually got raises would have received an average of 5% among themselves. Therefore, if you know you’re gong to receive a raise, going in asking for 2.4-3% increase is actually a smaller raise than most people who are getting raises would get!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not 100% sure of this, but I’m pretty sure that the averages given aren’t impacted by raises of 0. I think they’re “of raises that were given, the average is…”

  17. Jean*

    The story of an American worker: My husband has not had a cost of living or merit raise in 5 years. There have been no bonuses or single time payments. He is a supervisor in his 12th year of employment at the same organization. The organization is a conservation organization funded by the state, county and federal government as well as by private doners. His evaluations have been consistently “Distinguished”. He works about 60 hours a week. He is encouraged to only claim up to 10 hours of the 20 hours of overtime for which he earns an hour time off for each hour worked additional pay. The other 10 hours are worked for free…no pay and no time off. The work is expected in order to accomplish the yearly goals of the organization. He loses vacation days every year because he can not take the time off and still get the work done. While yearly operations have expanded, his crew has shrunk. Crew leaving employment have not been replaced and he is expected to get more work done with less resources. He supervises two crews seperated geografically by 50 miles of kind of rough travel. His administrative duties have increased with scheduling and planning, personel issues and data analysis. Because of increased taxes and health care costs, his bring home pay is a lot less than it ever was. He figured out that he is only bringing home $15.00 more a week than he was in 2005…nearly 8 years ago. He puts his heart and soul into his work and is one of the most ethical and hard working persons I know. On his last evaluation his manager made a note that he had the work ethic of an early pioneer and that his commitment to the project was unquestionable. At the same time she dinged him on productivity even though he managed w/ herculean effort to acomplish the goals for the year. He has since found out that others in management have been getting one time payments and merit bonuses. All other management had their pds upgraded and received increases in pay. His pd has not been reprised since 2007. That was the last time the payscale was adjusted for cost of living increases. After the last adjustment followed by 5yrs of no raises and after twelve years of employment, according to the present pay range for his position, his pay sits at a little above entry level pay for that position. His job also requires him to do remote camping or be away from home for up to 5 days. Last year he was away from home for 26 weeks. There is no additional pay for this extra time in the field. A $20 a day per diem is given to cover food costs while away. I tell him that he needs to quit but part of the problem with this is that #1 his lack of pay increases don’t show up well when seeking different employment and #2, he is 55 years old which is not a great time in life to be switching careers.

    1. ew0054*

      Sorry I just skimmed over the huge block of text with no paragraphs, but what I got out of it is he’s 55, works like a dog and been at this job forever with no raise.

      Why is he still there???

      At 55 years old he has 30+ years of experience. He still has between 10-15 years to work before traditional retirement. That’s a lifetime at another company. Contrary to your last statement, I think this is a great time to switch careers!

      With his experience, he could land a nice senior management role in a mid-sized company, or do consulting work. Perhaps he has seen enough in his field he could help small, new businesses in “turn-around” consulting?

  18. NAPEDOG*

    I have a part time jib as a caregiver/personal assistant for a retired priest,

    I only work 10-13 hours a week. I make $12.00 an hour under the table.

    I have been with him , loyal, dependable, and flexible- for one year now.

    I will probably only ask for one raise, and stay at that rate in perpetuity, or until he passes away, etc…

    He brought up the subjct of a raise today, but terms weren’t discussed. I have no clue to the amount he had in mind.

    I would be satisfied with 20%-bumping me up to $14.50. This amounts to $25-35 extra a week. This will not make or break either of us, but it’s also a matter of “pride” I guess.

    If I worked 40 hours a week for him, I would be satisfied with $1.50.
    But with a 10 hour week, I feel anything less than $2.50-is basically like no raise at all.

    I would rather be a martyr.

    Should I not say anything, and let him suggest the amount? Maybe he will go over the 20% mark?

    I would value anyone’s honest opinion.

    Note that while he is a retired priest, and on a pension/ss/”fixed income” he has some extra family money etc- so he can definitely afford the amount I have in mind.

    1. ew0054*

      I would express to him what you have expressed here. You are performing a service and you could present it as “After evaluating the new year, I need feel the need to charge $xx.xx for this service.” His income situation should not enter into this.

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