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My background:

  • I'm 32
  • Live in California (US)
  • I make $25/hr
  • I'm married (spouse brings in income as well)

At my current job I have usually received good raises percentage wise (~8-10% each time), but my last raise was only ~4% increase (in January 2023) which was less than the annual inflation rate of 5% (source).

Seeing that stings a little bit, but due to being married I haven't felt a sting from it. I suspect that I would feel a big sting if I was single or only had my income. Obviously none of you know how my employer operates or the people that I would have to deal with, but just in general, can you get to a point where you will look silly if you're asking for a raise based on inflation, or is that the totally wrong way to be thinking about things?

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If you aren't getting raises that at least cover inflation, you are effectively taking pay cuts over time. Whether your employer can afford to pay you enough to keep up with inflation (and hopefully beyond to also compensate you for your ever-increasing experience) is a separate issue, but it is very reasonable to request that, at a minimum, your pay keep up with inflation. The less you earn, the more important this is.

There's plenty of wage/salary information out there, but for many people it seems best to apply for other jobs and see what kind of pay their skills/experience will actually get them in order to negotiate pay (or decide to leave).

If you make a certain amount of money, is inflation less of a factor when seeking a raise?

Yes, if you have significantly more income than you need to live comfortably then raises keeping up with inflation are a lesser factor.

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    Higher incomes are less affected by local cost-of-living (and changes thereto), because disposable income can be spent mail-order. But being immune to local cost-of-living is not the same as being immune to inflation.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 1:03
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    And once you start investing, it'll be even less of a factor because your money is no longer entirely dependent on your job.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 1:49

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