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It’s true. Employers in the U.S. are giving raises on average about 2.5% across the board. This means employees are receiving a bump in pay, sometimes for the first time in at least a couple of years, says A. Harrison Barnes, career counselor and founder. It’s not major, but it is a sign that the economy is improving and employers are taking a leap of faith.

It’s important to keep in mind that salary increases are still being based on an employee’s performance and not so much on feeling obligated to provide the raises. This is significant since many feel they’re entitled to an increase just because they haven’t had one, says the founder. There’s a good chance you’re considered a “high performer”. Employers report that of all their employees, nearly a quarter of them are consistently high performers and go the extra mile.

This information, courtesy of the WorldatWork 2010 -2011 Salary Budget Survey, is culled from nearly 2,500 employers across the country in a varied collection of classifications. It’s said the respondents are representative of 15.5 million American employees.
On the flip side, the survey reports that employers are not feeling guilty about withholding raises for those who simply aren’t carrying their weight. They might have grown accustomed to giving bad news and as a result, they’ve become more assertive in those difficult conversations that include telling an employee that there’s no raise in his immediate future.

So which regions in the country are giving the biggest raises for those shining employees?

San Jose, California comes in first, with an average of 4.1%. A close second is found on the east coast in Boston, Massachussets. This city’s averaging a 4% increase, as is Portland Oregon, Seattle, Washington and Houston, Texas. The D.C. area is averaging 3.9% as is Tampa, Florida.

Is it possible this is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve heard so much about? “Maybe”, says A. Harrison Barnes. “It’s important to keep in mind it’s still not back to pre-recession days, but the small tell tale signs are there”. Barnes recommends for anyone looking to increase their salaries to become proactive in their careers. “Take a continuing education course, volunteer for that project no one’s looking forward to or be sure you let your manager know you’re up for a challenge”. It’s those attitudes that will really rise to the top and set you apart from the rest.

As the American economy continues to regain a sense of its former self, it’s still going to require many of the same sacrifices we’ve grown accustomed to; that said, it’s also up to each of us to start thinking about changes in our own lives. If you’ve grown bored with your current job, consider updating your resume and searching the database for new opportunities. They’re not going to come to you, but with a aggregate site that updates in real time, you can at least know for sure what the hiring environment’s like these days.

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