Relocating during COVID-19? Pulling up stakes could come with a substantial pay cut.
With the pandemic upending office life, some employees working remotely are contemplating moves from densely packed cities to less costly and greener destinations where they can be closer to family or fresh air.
Though workers may no longer need to put up with tight spaces and high costs to land top work opportunities, moving away from the nation’s hottest job markets could cost them as much as 30%, according to new research Glassdoor shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
Whether they are decamping for a new job or signing on remotely for their current company, where employees clock in will increasingly determine how much they take home, Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain told USA TODAY.
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Tech workers leaving New York and San Francisco can expect a significant pay decrease, for example, according to Chamberlain.
Software engineers, software developers, and product managers leaving San Francisco could see an average base pay cut of 24.8%, 21.3%, and 23.1%, respectively across the 30 cities Glassdoor examined. The average base pay cut for these same roles leaving New York was 12.2%, 10.4%, and 9.6%, respectively.
It’s not just tech workers who’d see their paycheck shrink. Registered nurses would see their pay decrease the most – nearly 30% – if they left their positions in San Francisco. Marketing managers and sales representatives leaving that city would make nearly 26% less.
“Traditionally wages almost never fall, but we are in an environment where I am basically predicting that wages will fall for a lot of jobs,” Chamberlain said. “The reason wages never fall is that workers never do things like this. They never pick up and move to radically different cities en masse.”
Chamberlain crunched the data based on the real-world earnings of workers who’ve participated in Glassdoor salary reports, not on cost-of-living differences between cities.
- The jobs packing the biggest pay cuts for workers leaving New York City are account managers (14.2%), analysts (13.5%) and attorneys (13.1%).
- Workers leaving San Jose, San Francisco and New York City would see their paychecks shrink the most. On average, across the 25 common jobs Glassdoor examined, workers leaving San Jose would see salaries shaved 24.6%, San Francisco 21.7%, New York City 9.8% and Seattle 9.7%.
- By contrast, workers moving away from Denver, Minneapolis, and Houston would on average see their base pay adjust by less than 1%.
Not all remote workers or workers who are relocating will face pay cuts in line with the Glassdoor estimates. But even if workers are not recalled to corporate campuses and office buildings post-COVID, geography will continue to be a major factor in how they are compensated, Chamberlain said.
“I don’t think it’s realistic that all work-from-home people will end up being paid the same. That’s basically what this data suggests,” he said. “Any workers, especially in tech, and workers leaving San Francisco or New York should expect cost-of-living adjustments between 10 and 30% depending on role and where they go.”
There are cities where New Yorkers could get a change of scenery without taking a financial hit, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston and San Diego.
But those bidding farewell to San Francisco will have to leave a chunk of their paycheck – if not their heart – there. A move to Los Angeles would come with a 13% pay cut, Seattle 12% and New York City almost 12%.
“COVID has really flipped the table on many aspects of how and where we work,” Chamberlain said. “We are going to see a lot of experimentation in the next year for what works and what doesn’t work in remote work and (compensation).”
You can find out what would happen to your pay if you relocated by searching by job title and city here.