The State of Salary Trends In The United States Heading Into 2017

Opportunity takes a geographical look at the salary discrepancies between job seekers and hiring managers across state lines.


This analysis is a follow up to our recent post titled, "Desired Salary Expectations of U.S. Job Seekers Outpace Companies Willingness to Offer." Here we take a closer look at the discrepancies between what job seekers expect to earn versus the reality of what hiring managers are willing to pay - based on geography.  Our analysis breaks down the salary trends of the four regions across the United States (South, Midwest, Northeast and West) based on five salary range categories (1).  Additionally, we take a closer look at a number of specific states within those regions to determine what influence they had on each region. Our research uses a subset of recent data from the Opportunity business network of over 1.3M professionals worldwide.  The subset includes a list of 20,000 people (job seekers and hiring managers) who created profiles in Q4 2016.

First we'll examine the salary preferences of job seekers in each region followed by the salary preferences of hiring managers.  Then, we'll take a closer look at the discrepancies between the two and what we can conclude from this if anything.

What We Found

Across all four regions, the salary expectations of job seekers within the $75,000 - $150,000 range are quite similar, with approximately 48% - 50% of all workers falling within that salary range.  

Where significant differences begin to occur are at the higher salary ranges.  For example, in the Northeast and the West we see an 8%-9% increase in the number of overall job seekers expecting (or hoping) to receive six figure incomes. Additionally, job seekers in the Northeast and the West are also 35% more likely to command a job making upwards of $200,000.  In fact, the number of job seekers in the Norteast expecting to earn $200,000+ doubles that of job seekers in the South and Midwest.  Job candidates in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are to blame for the difference as 13% of these workers (on average) expect to earn $200,000+. 

On the lower end of the spectrum, expectations for workers in the South and Midwest are about 7% more likely to seek jobs with salaries below $75,000.  The Midwest leads the way in the percentage of workers expecting to make less than $40,000.

  $25K-$40K $40K-$75K $75K-$100K $100K-$150K $150K-$200K $200K+
Northeast 4.40% 24.86% 23.42%  24.36%  12.81%  10.15%
Midwest 6.12%  28.73% 26.39% 24.28%  9.24%  5.23% 
South 5.77% 29.52%  25.84% 23.84%  10.36%  4.67% 
West 4.64% 24.12%  25.01%  25.61% 12.86%  7.76% 


Unlike most of the salary expectations of job seekers, the salaries offered by hiring managers vary widely with percentages ranging as much as 14% among the diffrent salary categories.

Look no further than the first column (lowest salary range of $25k - $40k) where only 8% of hiring managers in the Northeast expect a job candidate to accept a position earning below $40,000 versus the Midwest and South where 20% of hiring managers feel they can offer candidates a salary within that lower range.  In fact, nearly 60% of salaries offered in the Midwest and South are below the $75k range versus the Northeast and West where only 40% of salaries offered are below $75k.  Also interesting is how few jobs offered in the Midwest and the South pay at the higher end ($150k+).  The Midwest had ZERO hiring managers offering jobs that pay $150k and only 3% of those in the South offered jobs paying in that range.  The Northeast and the West offered those high paying jobs at 8% and 13% respectively.

  $25K-$40K $40K-$75K $75K-$100K $100K-$150K $150K-$200K $200K+
Northeast 8.16% 30.61% 22.45%  30.61%  2.04%  6.12%
Midwest 20.48%  37.35% 25.30% 16.87%  0.00%  0.00% 
South 19.78% 42.86%  17.58% 16.48%  2.20%  1.10% 
West 16.67% 26.19%  25.00%  19.05% 8.33%  4.76% 


Discrepancy Between Job Seekers and Hiring Managers

When analyzing both tables one can begin to see the differences between what job seekers in each region expect to make versus what hiring managers are actually willing to pay.  Some of the most glaring differences include:
  1. With the exception of the Northeast, the rate at which hiring managers offer lower paying jobs ($25k - $40k) versus what is desired by job candidates is, on average 3 - 4x higher.  
  2. As the salary ranges increase, the expectations of job seekers are even further out of step with reality (the West being slightly more in line).  For example, the salary expectations of workers in the Northeast, South and Midwest are approximately 5 - 10x higher than what hiring managers are willing to offer within the $150k - $200k+ range.    


Regardless of the regions, the salary expectations of most job seekers is somewhat out of step with the reality of what hiring managers are willing to offer - particularly at both extremes of the salary range spectrum. As expected, people have inflated ideals about what they are worth versus what hiring managers are willing to pay (If you're located in the South or Midwest, don't expect to receive a job offer above $150,000. It's almost non-existent!).  A bit more consistency does however exist across the middle tier salary ranges ($75 - $100k) as roughly 25% of both hiring managers and job seekers have those salary expectations. 

Up Next: Regional Salary Trends by Industry

(1) Salary Range Categories:  $25,000 - $40,000,  $40,000 - $75,000,  $75,000 - $100,000,  $100,000 - $150,000,  $150,000 - $200,000,  $200,000+

Datasource: Opportunity

Opportunity shall not be held liable for improper or incorrect use of the data described or information contained on these pages. The data, information and related graphics are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such. Opportunity gives no warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, utility or completeness of this information.