These Cities Offer the Best Chance at a Pay Raise

Which cities offer the best opportunities for scoring a raise?

That might seem like an odd question (not to mention an unanswerable one), but PayScale recently crunched survey data from 160,000 respondents and came up with an answer.

Top of the list: Ogden, Utah, where 85 percent of respondents received a raise after asking. Honolulu, HI, came in second with 82 percent, followed by Fresno, CA (81 percent), San Francisco, CA (80 percent), and Long Island, NY (78 percent).

There are also cities where employers seem anxious to deny pay bumps, according to the data. These include Stockton, CA (where only 61 percent of respondents received a raise upon asking), Knoxville, TN (also 61 percent), Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL (59 percent), Baton Rouge, LA (59 percent), and Gary, IN (53 percent).

Nationwide, some 70 percent of those who asked for a raise received one, but the actual percentage increases varied wildly from employer to employer. For example, some 39 percent of employees received the raise amount they requested, while 31 percent gained a smaller amount. When denied a pay bump, only 22 percent believed the company’s explanation, a situation that often leads to spectacular distrust between employer and employee.

“When employees don’t have visibility into their pay, they’re prone to develop a strong feeling that they’re underpaid and need to look elsewhere to be valued,” Mollie Lombardi, CEO of analyst and advisory firm Aptitude Research Partners, wrote in a note accompanying the data. “This research shows the need for better processes and better conversations about raises from both the employer and employees to address bias, promote fairness, diversity and – ultimately – a more satisfied and engaged workforce.”

Want to land a raise? Follow these steps:

Make Sure to Explain Your Value to the Company

Sure, you’re a nice person. But what companies ultimately care about is your utility. With that in mind, when you sit down to discuss a potential raise, make sure to demonstrate the value you’re providing to the firm. Come prepared with data to back up those assertions.

Rehearse Beforehand

Write down what you plan to say. Practice on a family member, friend, sympathetic colleague, or even a mirror. Solid preparation will ensure that you don’t stumble at the wrong moment.

Frame the Request

The worst thing you can do is present your raise request as a demand (“I’ve done great work, and you’re going to give me a raise, or I can’t guarantee I’ll stick around…”). Instead, offer up a brief summary of your value (per the section above), and then open the floor to a discussion about a potential money boost. That way, if your boss turns you down, you’re not forced into a super-awkward position of having to make good on an implied threat to quit; in addition, you’ll leave the door open to another request at a later date.

Accept What Happens

If you don’t get a raise, and you like working for the company, you need to return to work with your usual focus. Continue to deliver spectacular results, and the opportunity to ask for a pay bump will come again. If you harp on rejection, chances are good that your productivity will suffer, and you might find yourself having a different, even more uncomfortable discussion with your boss.

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