Are you feeling bummed that you weren’t graced with a pay raise this year? You’re not alone. This year, only half of workers got a salary bump, says Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate.com. But, get this: That’s actually up in terms of the number of people who normally get annual raises — the best number in 3 years, he says. Seems low, right? “Gone are the days where there was the across the board cost of living raise,” he adds.
So Who Benefitted?
This is the “new normal in a competitive economic environment and in a slow growth economic environment,” McBride says. Instead of giving everyone a little something, employers are focusing on their “difficult to replace” employees and giving only those workers significant raises each year, McBride explains. Think of it this way: Yes, it’s true that hourly wages are up 3.1%, but that isn’t evenly distributed across the board. “The reality is like one person got 6%, one person got 0%,” McBride says.
And Who Was Disappointed?
Low-wage workers really felt the brunt of this. In sectors like childcare, retail, and housekeeping, there isn’t much room for a raise to begin with since there isn’t much of a career ladder, says Martha Ross, Fellow at Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
What Do You Do If You’re Stuck At Last Year’s Pay?
If you find yourself in a field where it’s hard to rise in rank, consider switching fields entirely, suggests Ross. Channel your current experience in taking the next step toward higher pay. For example, if you’re a cashier, you know there are way more cashiers than there are store managers, so getting that in-store promotion may not be realistic. Instead, into training that can help you build on that experience or take you in another direction entirely — coding, perhaps — to land a new job with a bigger paycheck.
Rising the rungs of the career ladder is possible in many jobs, though, so now is as good a time as ever to update your skills, McBride says. “You want to show what sets you apart from your colleagues or others in the marketplace,” he adds, so further your education, get training, and obtain new certifications.
How Do You Ensure A Raise Next Year?
Then, take it to the boss. Show your employer how you “quantify the impact you’re having on the bottom line,” McBride says. Prove how crucial you are to their operation and explain that, because of your new and improved skill set, in addition to your stellar work at the company, you deserve to be compensated at a higher rate. Taking this step could add you to the 50% to get a raise next year.
Plus, right now, there are 1.4 million more jobs available than there are unemployed people, McBride adds. With demand exceeding the supply, there is plenty of room for salary negotiations. If your employer isn’t meeting your request, get back out there and get another offer. Bring it back to your boss to show how well you could be compensated elsewhere. And if nothing works, you can always walk away. In today’s job market there are plenty of other options out there.
With Rebecca Cohen