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Are You More or Less Likely to Get a Raise Than Your Coworkers?

If you’re thinking about asking for a raise, read this first: PayScale’s new “Raise Anatomy” report helps employees who are asking for an increase make all the right moves, moves that based on our research make you more likely to land the raise you want.

In PayScale’s new “Raise Anatomy” report, we asked over 160,060 workers if they have ever asked for a pay increase from their current employer. One of the key things we found is that pay raises aren’t doled out in an equitable fashion. In fact, white men are far more likely to actually get an increase when they ask for it than is a person of color.

Women of Color Were 19 Percent Less Likely to Have Received a Raise than a White Man, and men of Color Were 25 Percent Less Likely.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

After controlling for other important factors including experience, tenure, job type, job level, industry, education and demographics, we found that no single gender or racial/ethnic group is more likely to have asked for a salary bump at some point than any other. Yet, people of color were less likely to receive an increase when they asked for one.  

Given the size of our study, it’s clear that there is a level of bias happening, where managers are responding differently to employees of different races when they ask for an increase in pay.

Know Your Odds Before You Ask for a raise

Although asking for a raise isn’t the same as playing the roulette wheel (because doing your homework will improve your chances of success), we decided to study the factors that impact a person’s odds of receiving a raise. Here they are:   

1. The Odds Are In Your Favor If You Ask
Seventy percent of employees who have asked for a raise received some amount of pay increase. Thirty-nine percent of those who asked received the amount they asked for. Another 31 percent received less than the amount they requested.

2. Location Matters

When it comes to advocating for oneself, we found that there are attitude differences associated with different regions of the U.S. For instance, West coasters (those in cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Portland) are most likely to ask for pay increases. Workers who reside in the Midwest (West North Central and East North Central divisions) are least likely to ask.Likelihood of Having Asked for a Raise by Census Division


Some cities need workers more acutely than others, and thus they’re more willing to shell out money to get workers to stick around. The cities of Ogden (Utah) and Honolulu (Hawaii), San Francisco (California), Boston (Massachusetts), and Seattle (Washington) took the top five spots for the best cities in terms of getting a raise once workers ask for one. Gary (Indiana) took the dubious honor of last place — the place where workers had the lowest overall rate of receiving a raise after asking.

3. Rank and Tenure Increases Your Chances of Getting to “Yes”

The higher up you are on the career ladder, the more likely you are to receive a raise when you ask. Relative to an individual contributor, a manager is 42 percent more likely to receive a raise after asking, a director is 119 percent more likely to receive a raise, and an executive (those with a VP or C-level job title) is 142 percent more likely to receive a raise.

Spending more time with an organization also increases your chances of receiving a raise after asking, up to a point. Workers with two to three years at the same organization were just over three times as likely to have received a raise after asking, compared to an employee with less than 1 year of tenure.

Likelihood of Receiving a Raise by Tenure

Why Employers Are Saying “No” to Workers’ Pleas

Budgetary constraints are the most common justification employers provided for denying someone a raise (49 percent of denied employees reported they heard this rationale). Only 22 percent of employees who heard this rationale actually believed it.

Disturbingly, a third of workers who were denied a raise reported that no rationale was provided!

Top Rationales-For-Being-Denied-a-Raise

As you might expect, workers aren’t too pleased when they are rejected. In this study, we found that when workers don’t believe the rationale, or aren’t provided with one, they reported lower rates of satisfaction with their employer and reported being more likely to quit.

Why Haven’t Most Workers Asked for a Raise?

What’s interesting is that the majority of surveyed workers — in fact, 63 percent — have not asked for a raise from their current employer. There are many reasons why workers haven’t asked. To learn more about the reasons and how they differ between men and women, check out our new “Raise Anatomy” report.

If you’re thinking about asking for a raise, be sure to know your value first. In fact, arming yourself with data should be the first step you take, because data helps you establish your credibility and ensure that what you’re asking for makes sense for your role, location, industry and organization type. Find out what’s a fair salary by taking PayScale’s Salary Survey.


Are you taking advantage of the current job market to ask for a raise? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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