Help My Career: Job switchers saw a greater increase in salary than people who decided to stay put. Here’s what’s at stake.


It pays to look around.

The number of job switchers reporting wage gains has expanded while the number of job stayers reporting wage gains actually contracted as inflation exacts its toll, according to Thursday findings from the Pew Research Center.

Some 60% of workers saw real wage increases from April 2021 to March 2022 after switching jobs, according to Thursday findings from the Pew Research Center. That’s up from 51% of new workers who saw gains from April 2020 to March 2021.

At the same time, only 47% of people staying at their job experienced real wage gains in the same April 2021-March 2022 period, down from 54% the previous 12 months.

“Most workers who switched employers continued to experience an increase in real earnings, and amid a surge in demand for new hires, their advantage over other workers in this respect appears to be widening,” researchers Rakesh Kochhar, Kim Parker and Ruth Igielnik wrote.

“The median worker who stayed put saw a nearly 2% loss in pay when adjusting for the inflation, while job switchers experienced a 10% wage gain, according to the Pew Research Center data.”

Contrary to the long-lasting gripes about work ethic that are buzzing around again, it may just be that many people see the fatter paychecks elsewhere. Low pay was the top reason why people left their jobs in 2021, a February Pew survey noted.

Other data shows the money gains for people who bounce to a new job at a time when employers are eager to find and keep staff.

As of June, job switchers enjoyed 6.4% average wage growth during the past 12 months, according to Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta data. That’s compared to the 4.7% average wage growth for people who stayed. But those figures were not adjusted for inflation.

But this week’s findings come as storm clouds keep gathering over worries of a possible recession. The U.S. economy shrank by an annualized 0.9% in the second quarter, according to newly-released data on the country’s gross domestic product.

That’s the second consecutive quarterly decline, heating up the debate about whether the country is in a recession or, at least, heading for one.

Looking ahead, one-fifth of the Pew poll participants (22%) said they are at least somewhat likely to be looking for a new job in the next six months. But people sound roughly split on how easy it would be a get a new job now, with 39% saying it will be easy and 37% saying it will be hard.

The job hunt

“The Great Resignation of 2021 has continued into 2022, with quit rates reaching levels last seen in the 1970s,” the Pew researchers added.

So who’s polishing up their resume and looking around amid layoffs and hiring slow downs, particularly in the tech sector? A recession could affect white collar workers more, with blue-collar service and manufacturing jobs in increasing demand, according to one economist.

Serious and casual job searchers hoping for better paychecks elsewhere should remember a couple things about their job hunt, experts say. For one thing, don’t underestimate the power of a good-looking resume and enthusiastic, well-written cover letter, says Martha Coven, author of Writing on the Job.

In the next steps, the job interview in all likelihood will boil down to some common themes that applicants need to explicitly and implicitly address, according to the job search site

For starters, follow-up emails help, especially if it’s a close-run race between the final candidates. It shows you’re engaged and really want the job.

What’s more, the job interviewer will want to get a sense about whether they will enjoy working with an applicant, if the applicant is truly excited about the job opening, and if they have the skills and experience to do the job.

The negotiation

Negotiating salary comes with an array of considerations, according to That includes research on going rates and geography to account for cost of living.

But experts at the site advise applicants to aim for the top of the range and be confident in the ask. Feel free to rehearse it ahead of time with a friend, they note. It shows you put a high value on your own services, and takes into account the tight labor market. (Unemployment is currently hovering at 3.6%.)

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