49% of Americans Who Switched Jobs Received a Pay Increase

49% of Americans Who Switched Jobs Received a Pay Increase

Increases in compensation and flexibility drew workers to switch employers and roles during the pandemic
woman having job interview

In an era of unusually high inflation and employment shake-ups, workers have an increasing number of incentives to switch jobs.

To keep up with inflation rates, employees have needed their pay to increase by as much as 7.5% so far in 2022. And according to a survey from nonprofit think tank The Conference Board, changing jobs has helped a subset of workers not only keep up with, but even outpace, inflation. Job-switching can also be a key to finding better benefits and flexibility, which some workers say is more important than pay.

How workers benefit from switching jobs

It's hard to overstate the pressure that inflation has placed on consumers. In The Conference Board's survey, 62% of respondents report worrying that their paychecks won’t keep pace with price increases. But for some, job-switching is a solid strategy for addressing this issue.

In the survey, people who left their employer for another job during the pandemic were asked how their cash compensation package — including salary plus bonus — had changed. Here's what they said:

  • 29% say their compensation has increased by more than 30% in their new role
  • 20% received a 10% to 20% increase in compensation
  • 27% are earning about the same or less than they did in their previous role

The findings build on an earlier Workforce Vitality Report from payroll and HR services firm ADP, which suggested that switching jobs is a better strategy for wage growth than holding onto a current position. In that previous survey, ADP found that national wage growth overall was at 3.3% in the third quarter of 2021, but double that figure for those who switched jobs at 6.6%.

Non-pay incentives

Aside from pay bumps, people say they would switch jobs for a handful of reasons — these are their top priorities:

  1. Company contribution (and match) to a retirement plan (72%)
  2. Workplace flexibility (71%)
  3. Generous paid time off (64%)

When asked what would make them stay in their current role, the top choice involved receiving a promotion, expressed by 29% of respondents. The next most popular answers were an increase in base salary of 21% to 30% (21%) or 30% or higher (21%), followed by a flexible work location (20%) (meanwhile, 11% said they’d refuse any counteroffer they might receive from their current job). However, only 7% said they would choose a salary reduction in order to work remotely.

Who benefits most from job-switching?

The Conference Room survey found that some groups have benefited more than others from job switching, including women and senior level employees.

Women who found new jobs during the pandemic were slightly more likely to see an increase of over 30% in compensation than men (31% versus 28 percent, respectively); at the same time, women were also less likely than men to have made a lateral move (9% versus 13%, respectively).

The earlier APD report also found that women were switching jobs and experiencing wage growth at higher rates than men, although they still earned lower wages overall.

For senior-level employees, switching jobs had the biggest pay off. More members of this group — which includes vice presidents, C-suite employees and CEOs — experienced compensation increases of 30% or higher (35%) than other individual contributors who changed jobs during the pandemic (22%).

Methodology: The workforce survey from The Conference Board included more than 2,600 U.S.-based respondents, who are predominantly professional or office workers.