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Workers Earn Average of 11% More By Switching Jobs and Moving, Data Shows

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There’s something to be said about long-tenured employees. They know the ropes, have some seniority and are probably pretty comfortable. Still, there’s also something to be said about earning more money. And if that’s your goal, you may need to leave that comfort zone — and your ZIP code.

The newest LendingTree study delves into data on workers who took new jobs that entailed a relocation — either in state or out of state — finding an average earnings jump of 11%. We also look at how job-hopping pays off based on a company’s location, size, age and industry.

Key findings

  • Workers who switched jobs and moved within the U.S. — whether in state or out of state — saw their average earnings jump 11%. A LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows average earnings jumping in 42 of the 43 states with figures during the fourth quarter of 2020 — the latest available at this level.
  • Employees who switched jobs and moved to or within Ohio saw the largest average pay increases of any state. According to the LendingTree analysis, workers who did so increased their earnings by 33%, on average. Connecticut and New Jersey followed at 26% each.
  • Wyoming is the only state with available data in which people who switched jobs and moved saw their average earnings decrease. In the Equality State, average earnings saw a 12% dip after. Ahead of Wyoming are North Dakota, at a 2% increase, and four states with a 4% jump.
  • Workers switching to larger companies (or changing employers among larger companies) tended to see the largest average pay increases. At the demographic level, LendingTree used California as its subject due to it having the largest sample size. Workers moving to a company with at least 500 employees saw their incomes jump by 15%, on average. No other firm size saw an average jump above 6%.
  • Similar to company size, workers who moved to more mature and established firms saw larger average earnings increases. People who moved to a firm that had existed for at least 11 years saw average earnings increases of 13%. That compares to an average of 2% among workers who moved to businesses a year or less old.
  • Job switchers in the mining industry saw the largest earnings increases. Workers who switched jobs within or to the mining industry increased earnings by an average of 31%. At the bottom are job switchers in the agriculture industry, where earnings decreased by an average of 11% — the only industry among those tracked to see a drop.
What are we tracking, and why is it important?

In this study, LendingTree analysts compared average quarterly earnings before and after a job switch that entailed a relocation, whether in state or out of state. Job-hopping can often be the best way for employees to boost their earnings — especially among those earlier in their careers. Where you job-hop can also affect how big a salary boost you can expect.

Why does job-hopping frequently pay off? The reasons vary, says Jacob Channel, LendingTree senior economic analyst.

“When you’re negotiating for a job with a new employer, your new salary will likely be much less dependent on your current one than it would be had you been negotiating a raise with your current employer,” he says. “As a result, it might be easier to negotiate a higher salary than you would have if you had kept your old job, as you likely won’t have your new employer comparing what you’re currently making to what you’re asking for.

“Job-hopping may also pay off because people are less likely to switch jobs for a smaller pay raise. After all, changing jobs, learning all your new responsibilities and meeting all your new co-workers can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, so it might not make sense to take a new job unless you were being offered substantially more money.”

Where workers who switch jobs, move see the largest average pay increases

Looking for a big salary boost? Be prepared to round up some moving boxes. Workers who switched jobs and moved (either within or outside of their state of residence) saw an average salary bump of 11%.

This data isn’t tracked at the national level, so we averaged the findings from the states with available data from the fourth quarter of 2020 — which coincides with the end of the first partial year of the coronavirus pandemic. The findings show that job relocations to 42 of these 43 states resulted in average earnings jumps.

Buckle down and start searching for work in the Buckeye State for your best shot at the biggest earnings boost. People whose new jobs moved them to or within Ohio increased their quarterly earnings by 33%, on average — the largest boost of any state.

The state reported 171,073 new business filings in 2020 — more than 40,000 above the 2019 record of 130,621. (While there’s no guarantee that business filings turn into profitable, job-creating businesses, it is a good indicator.) Specifically, a LendingTree study on where entrepreneurship boomed amid the pandemic found business applications spiked year over year in 2020 by at least 25% in the Cleveland, Akron, Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati metro areas. This could lead to a competitive jobs market where earnings have to be raised significantly to attract employees.

Moves to and within Connecticut and New Jersey followed, with workers in these states earning an average of 26% more than at their previous jobs. Both are among the states with the highest per capita personal incomes in the U.S. They also have above-average living costs, which likely forces employers to pay more to make jobs there attractive.

Largest pay increases after switching jobs, moving

RankStateQuarterly earnings before changeQuarterly earnings after change% change
1Ohio$9,828$13,08533%
2 (tie)Connecticut$13,653$17,26226%
2 (tie)New Jersey$15,165$19,09926%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database

Moving can be expensive, and even more so now because of the pandemic. While a bigger salary is great, you’ll have to weigh the bigger financial picture — including the possibility of needing to get a mortgage with a new job and owing debt accumulated during the move. While taking on temporary debt may pay off in the long run, be sure you have a plan to pay it off in place with tools such as a debt consolidation loan.

Where workers who switch jobs, move see the smallest average pay increases

Moving doesn’t always equal a salary bump though — especially if you’re headed to Wyoming, the only one of 43 states with available data where workers saw a quarterly earnings decrease after switching jobs. The average nosedived from $12,128 to $10,684 after a move to or within Wyoming — a 12% decrease.

As for why, a concept discussed in more detail later in this LendingTree study may better help explain. We’ll note later that the mining industry is the most lucrative for job-hoppers. But at the time of this data from the fourth quarter of 2020, the largest job losses in Wyoming were in this industry. In fact, the state lost more than 5,900 jobs that quarter in this industry. It makes sense then that a state like Wyoming would see the opposite impact in our study when it loses the most jobs in an industry like that. (The state also has a below-average cost of living, which can factor into how an employer pays you.)

Other states where job-hopping only provided a small average increase in earnings (a few of which also have below-average living costs) include North Dakota, Nebraska, Maine, Idaho and Montana. Workers moving to new jobs in these states saw an average pay increase of no more than 4%.

Smallest pay increases after switching jobs, moving

RankStateQuarterly earnings before changeQuarterly earnings after change% change
1Wyoming$12,128$10,684-12%
2North Dakota$10,281$10,4892%
3 (tie)Nebraska$9,778$10,1564%
3 (tie)Maine$10,943$11,4124%
3 (tie)Idaho$10,054$10,4984%
3 (tie)Montana$10,305$10,7634%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database

Full rankings

Biggest — and smallest — pay increases after switching jobs, moving

RankStateQuarterly earnings before changeQuarterly earnings after change% change
1Ohio$9,828$13,08533%
2 (tie)Connecticut$13,653$17,26226%
2 (tie)New Jersey$15,165$19,09926%
4New York$14,522$18,13225%
5Florida$11,492$13,67019%
6District of Columbia$20,012$23,62218%
7New Hampshire$13,571$15,72916%
8Minnesota$11,767$13,48615%
9Colorado$13,468$15,29814%
10 (tie)Texas$12,297$13,95613%
10 (tie)Illinois$11,980$13,57913%
10 (tie)North Carolina$10,870$12,24113%
13 (tie)Maryland$12,788$14,37712%
13 (tie)Hawaii$11,343$12,73612%
13 (tie)Virginia$12,700$14,24112%
13 (tie)Pennsylvania$11,415$12,76112%
13 (tie)Georgia$10,861$12,13512%
18 (tie)Michigan$10,307$11,45611%
18 (tie)California$14,761$16,32411%
18 (tie)Rhode Island$11,665$12,89511%
21 (tie)Utah$10,801$11,90910%
21 (tie)Massachusetts$15,954$17,58510%
21 (tie)Washington$15,929$17,51610%
21 (tie)Delaware$12,237$13,44010%
21 (tie)Nevada$12,543$13,75010%
26 (tie)Indiana$9,654$10,5319%
26 (tie)New Mexico$10,228$11,1409%
26 (tie)South Carolina$10,114$10,9959%
26 (tie)Kentucky$9,250$10,0559%
30 (tie)Arizona$11,655$12,6428%
30 (tie)Wisconsin$10,200$11,0268%
32 (tie)West Virginia$9,335$10,0277%
32 (tie)Oregon$12,022$12,8907%
34 (tie)Vermont$10,817$11,5136%
34 (tie)Alabama$9,518$10,1036%
36 (tie)Iowa$9,291$9,7875%
36 (tie)South Dakota$9,654$10,1415%
38 (tie)Montana$10,305$10,7634%
38 (tie)Idaho$10,054$10,4984%
38 (tie)Maine$10,943$11,4124%
38 (tie)Nebraska$9,778$10,1564%
42North Dakota$10,281$10,4892%
43Wyoming$12,128$10,684-12%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database. Data on Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee was unavailable.

Workers at largest firms benefit most from job-hopping

California as a case study

Beyond locale, the payoff for job-hopping is often affected by the type of job to which you’re hopping. Because this demographic data isn’t available at the national level, we used California as a case study, since it provides the largest sample size.

 

Size matters when it comes to job-hopping. When we delved into job changes by the type of company — again, this is based on California because it provides the largest sample size with no national-level data available — it was workers who moved to or among larger companies that saw the biggest pay increases.

Those moving to a company with 500-plus employees saw an average salary increase of 15%, while those moving to smaller companies only saw a 5% to 6% increase.

A larger company’s diversification could make it easier to overcome the headwinds businesses faced during the pandemic. For example, a second COVID-19 wave during the fourth quarter of 2020 had many small businesses increasingly worried about their futures.

Pay changes after switching employers (by size of companies)

Employer sizeQuarterly earnings before changeQuarterly earnings after change% change
0 to 19 employees$12,631$13,2045%
20 to 49$13,340$14,2006%
50 to 249$14,986$15,8886%
250 to 499$17,502$18,4135%
500+$15,621$17,88915%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database

Head to an established company if you’re looking for a bigger pay increase

Moving to a more established firm often can pay off, too, with those going to a firm that’s been around for at least 11 years increasing their earnings by an average of 13%.

Those who moved to newbie companies less than a year old only saw an increase of 2%, and those who jumped to companies that have been around four to five years saw an average decrease in their salary of 3%.

This isn’t surprising, perhaps, given that 18.4% of private-sector businesses in the U.S. fail within the first year; after five years, 49.7% have faltered. And while 65.5% of businesses have failed after 10 years, those that remain standing likely have regular customers in place and a steady flow of funds.

Pay changes after switching employers (by age of companies)

Company ageQuarterly earnings before changeQuarterly earnings after change% change
0 to 1 year$13,649$13,8902%
2 to 3 years$15,682$16,7377%
4 to 5 years$15,094$14,595-3%
6 to 10 years$17,403$18,4276%
11+ years$14,561$16,50213%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database

Mining for a new job? Consider California’s mining industry

To potentially strike it rich — or at least richer than you were at your previous job — check out the mining industry in California. Those who switched to companies that extract coal, crude petroleum and natural gas, among other things, increased their earnings by an average of 31% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Other top California industries that paid off for job-switchers include finance and insurance and accommodation and food services (hotels and restaurants), each where hopping resulted in an average 25% salary increase.

Those are pretty big bumps — especially when compared to job switchers in the California agriculture industry (think farms, ranches, dairies, greenhouses, nurseries, orchards or hatcheries), where job-hoppers saw earnings decrease by an average of 11%.

Just above agriculture were professional and technical services (fields that require a lot of training and expertise, such as law, architecture and research) and arts, entertainment and recreation, with workers switching to jobs in these industries only increasing their average income by 1% and 6%, respectively.

Pay changes after switching employers (by industry)

IndustryQuarterly earnings before changeQuarterly earnings after change% change
Mining$16,279$21,28331%
Finance and insurance$23,617$29,62125%
Accommodation and food services$6,127$7,68225%
Health care and social assistance$11,678$14,18821%
Utilities$19,743$22,81416%
Management of companies$17,772$20,26714%
Transportation$9,920$11,26714%
Educational services$11,900$13,45813%
Manufacturing$17,211$19,11311%
Wholesale trade$16,162$17,78510%
Retail trade$8,554$9,41210%
Information$33,053$36,0539%
Real estate$14,848$16,1068%
Administrative and support services$11,154$12,0548%
Other services$10,779$11,6088%
Construction$14,887$15,8717%
Arts, entertainment and recreation$14,981$15,8556%
Professional and technical services$26,386$26,7811%
Agriculture$9,107$8,123-11%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database

5 job-hunting tips

Thinking about job-hopping to boost your salary? Channel offers the following tips to help you, well, hop to it:

  • Know your worth: When searching for a new job and a raise, Channel says that employees should be sure they can clearly communicate how much money they’re worth. “They should highlight their relevant skills and point out to prospective employers why those skills are worth top-dollar,” he says.
  • Negotiate: You should be willing to negotiate and unafraid to be open and honest about what you want. “The worst thing an employer can say is ‘no,’” Channel says. “After all, how can someone expect to get what they’re after if they never ask for it in the first place?”
  • Proceed with caution: Job seekers who want a raise should be sure they aren’t quitting their current job and rushing into something new before they fully understand. “Be wary of quitting your current job without having a new job set up,” he says. “Just because you’re not working, that doesn’t mean that things like your debt obligations go away. The last thing you want to do is tank your credit score or default on a loan because you quit your job, couldn’t find a new one and didn’t have any income to make your payments.”
  • Consider the whole picture: When moving for a higher-paying job, it’s important to consider the cost of living in the area in which you want to move, as well as moving expenses. A higher wage in a big city may be worth less than a lower wage in a small city or town. And a higher wage might not necessarily pay off right away if you spend a fortune moving across the country. You should also consider whether you’ll like the place you’re thinking about moving. “Extra money might not be worth it if your new surroundings make you completely miserable,” Channel says.
  • Explore remote possibilities: Since the pandemic, more jobs are being performed remotely, and you may want to explore such options before making a move. “In today’s work environment, you may be able to get a higher-paying job at an employer headquartered a thousand miles away from you, without ever needing to leave your house,” he says.

Methodology

To rank the states where workers received the largest increases in earnings after switching jobs and moving, we compared earnings for job switchers in the fourth quarter of 2020 — the latest information available. Specifically, we compared the earnings of workers before they switched jobs and moved and then again after. We ranked the states from highest percentage increase to lowest.

We then compared job movers across various demographics (including industry size, industry age and more) using the same method as with the state analysis. Because this data isn’t available at the national level, we used California as our subject due to it having the largest sample size.

LendingTree analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics job-to-job flows database.

 

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