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Compensation Research Guide (2019)

Outlines compensation research strategies and sources.

Location & Living Costs

Location (e.g. urban vs. rural, state/region, national/international, etc.) will play a role in compensation needs because cost of living will vary. Use the following resources to research cost of living and living wage needs by location. In addition, the overall labor market in the potential state of residence may have an impact.

Cost of Living Calculators (crowd-sourced):

These online tools allow users to upload information on the pricing of goods and services for a specific geographic location. These offer a more granular breakdown of living costs, but are subject to error based on who is entering the information. Consider those factors when assessing and using this data.  


Living Wage Calculator:

A living wage is broadly defined as the minimum amount an individual worker must be paid to cover basic needs. Keep in mind that this is different from the legally mandated minimum wage. Living wage calculations include average cost of living for housing and transportation, but individual needs will vary from person to person. 


Labor Markets:

Use the links below to check out the overall labor market by U.S. state. Companies and industries are affected by general trends at both the state and national level. A robust state-level labor market indicates the potential for company and individual professional growth. A depressed market could create difficulties in locating other employment opportunities in the event of a career change. 


Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii
Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming