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College grads need $99,081 salary offer to change jobs, New York Fed survey says



The job market is cooling, the cost of living is still at a record high and judging by return-to-office mandates, the pendulum is seemingly swinging back in favor of bosses—but that doesn’t mean employers will now be able to snap up top talent on the cheap.

According to the New York Fed’s most recent Survey of Consumer Expectations, workers are expecting bigger salary increases to change jobs now than during The Great Resignation, when wages hit a record high.

In fact, as of March 2024, the lowest annual paycheck graduates would be willing to accept for a new job is $99,081.

Meanwhile, workers without a college degree won’t job-hop for anything less than $68,390.

Both figures are the highest salary expectations on record—and although the data doesn’t delve into what’s driving this surge, it’s not hard to imagine why people are asking for more money in the current climate.

Not only have workers gotten used to living on a bigger paycheck since employers paid over the odds to hire and retain talent between 2021 and 2022, but since then, everything from mortgage payments to groceries and gas has gone through the roof.

Amid economic uncertainty and stubborn inflation, workers are likely reluctant to give up a secure job unless they’re being offered substantially more financial stability than they already have. 

Especially with the looming threat of being last in, first out in the current wave of widespread layoffs, workers will want a significant pay bump to justify the risk of leaving a stable role.

Sorry, bosses: The Great Resignation isn’t over yet

Although previous reports have suggested that the Great Resignation is “officially done”, the New York Fed’s data shows that people are still looking to pastures new at an alarmingly high rate.

The proportion of individuals who reported searching for a job in the past four weeks increased to around 25% from 23% in November 2023, marking the highest reading since March 2014. 

According to the report, men over 45 and those without a college degree are the biggest flight risks, and they are most likely to be eyeing the exit door.

Moreover, this isn’t the first study to suggest that reports heralding an end to employees jumping ship in their droves were overly optimistic.  

A major study from LinkedIn and Microsoft recently warned that more people want to quit their jobs today than during the Great Resignation—and bosses know it.

Nine out of 10 organizations globally are concerned about employee retention and half of the hiring managers in Europe predict an increase in employee turnover in 2024.

This means that keeping workers happy might climb back to the top of managers’ to-do lists.

Want to earn nearly $100,000? Good luck 

The silver lining for employers: Six-figure salary jobs are hard to come by. According to NY Fed data, the average job hunter was offered $73,668 in March 2024. 

Although the data doesn’t reveal what graduates were offered compared to non-grads, the median salary for full-time workers aged 25 and older with a Bachelor’s degree is just shy of $78,000.

Other data shows that the only graduates with any real hope of landing a six-figure role are those who studied engineering or medicine.  

Ultimately, when the average graduate with itchy feet realizes that salaries on offer are around $20,000 short of what they say they need to leave, they may stay put after all.

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