But this move-to-improve chance won’t last forever.
If you want a bigger paycheck, consider moving to a boomtown. As opposed to just a few years ago, there are now plenty across America, and the economic recovery has caught fire in many places, pushing unemployment rates down and wages up.
The national unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent, and in many areas of the country and many industries, employers are willing to pay a premium for you. But, you’ll need to switch jobs.
Why is moving often necessary? Many employers are reluctant to give raises to existing employees, despite the low unemployment rate. At this point in previous recoveries, raises have been much higher—in some cases well over 4 or even 5 percent. But those employers with a crying need for more employees, because they can’t expand or produce as many widgets as they could sell, are enticing workers to come work for them with fat paychecks, and even big moving allowances and housing bonuses.
And you might need to switch professions. However, on-the-job training is being offered by more employers desperate for workers, and online training targeted to the skills employers want today is mushrooming.
If you’re a Millennial, you should pay particular attention to what the economy is offering now. Millions of Millennials came out of college just after the Great Recession hit, and were forced to choose jobs below their education and potential. Given the current move-to-improve situation, the timing is perfect to reset your life. The window, though, won’t stay open forever.
That’s because the economy may be peaking this year. And once we start heading towards the next recession, and the decline could begin in 2019, opportunities will start drying up in many regions.
A hotter economy may be in a city not far from where you now live. But if you’re looking for general advice: Move west, just not too far west. Analysts say cities such as Denver, Colorado (unemployment rate 2.3 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (2.7 percent); and Boise, Idaho (2.4 percent), offer employment sweet spots. Portland, Oregon (2.4 percent); and Seattle, Washington (3.8 percent), also have strong economies that pay well, but are more expensive. Comparatively, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, California, and the surrounding high-tech areas, may have big demands for tech and other workers, but the high cost of living makes relocating there a tough economic decision.
And although job/wage markets in the Southeast may not be as prime, they still offer good wage prospects and low costs of living. Cities such as Charlotte (2.5 percent) and the greater Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area (about 3 percent) in North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia (3.3 percent), are worth exploring.
Of course, if your own city is doing well, you may need to just move across town to collect the move-to-improve premium paycheck.
If you lack the education or skills needed for the job you want, the good news is many employers are starting to train new hires. This is a return to previous decades, when on-the-job training was more common.
And employers desperate for workers with the right skills are teaming up to provide training online. More “programming boot camps” are springing up. These offer intensive training (often three to six months) in computer programming that can often lead to $80,000 jobs in the information technology field. IT isn’t the only area where high wages are being paid—often coupled with a move. Healthcare is booming, and so is construction. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that pay for tradespeople who build exteriors is up more than 22 percent in the last year.
Of course, don’t act rashly. If you find a great opportunity, weigh the cost of housing and the cost of living where the job is against the better paycheck.
Again, this is a limited-time offer. A wealth of better jobs in hot employment markets might not return until we’re well into the next expansion, years from now. So if you’re looking for your personal economy to boom, there is no better time to change jobs and perhaps change the course of your life.
About the Author: Robert Frick is the corporate economist for Navy Federal Credit Union. He holds a B.A. (Journalism) and an M.B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University, and was a financial and business journalist, including working as a newspaper business editor and senior editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He was also editorial director of a financial publishing firm and is an expert in behavioral economics, having published more than 50 articles on the subject, and having worked as a researcher, writer and speaker for the Allianz Center for Behavioral Finance.