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Moving during the pandemic, even to ‘work from home’ from somewhere new, could cost you

And it isn’t just tech workers who could make less, a new Glassdoor survey finds.

A mover carries a customer’s belongings in New York City, where there’s been a rise in the number of people moving away during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A mover carries a customer’s belongings in New York City, where there’s been a rise in the number of people moving away during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Planning to move during the pandemic? Pulling up stakes could come with a big pay cut, according to new research by the online job and salary site Glassdoor..

With the coronavirus upending office life, some people working remotely are contemplating moves from densely packed cities to less costly and perhaps warmer places.

But moving from the nation’s hottest job markets could cost them as much as 30%, according to Glassdoor.

Whether decamping for a new job or signing on remotely for their current company, where employees clock in will increasingly determine how much they take home, Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain says.

Tech workers leaving New York and San Francisco can expect a significant pay decrease, for example, according to Chamberlain.

Software engineers, software developers, and product managers leaving San Francisco could see an average cut in their base pay of 24.8%, 21.3% and 23.1% across the 30 cities Glassdoor examined. The average base pay cut for these same roles leaving New York was 12.2%, 10.4% and 9.6%.

It’s not just tech workers who’d see their paycheck shrink. Registered nurses would see their pay decrease the most — nearly 30% — if they left their positions in San Francisco. Marketing managers and sales representatives leaving that city would make nearly 26% less.

“Traditionally, wages almost never fall, but we are in an environment where I am basically predicting that wages will fall for a lot of jobs,” Chamberlain says. “The reason wages never fall is that workers never do things like this. They never pick up and move to radically different cities en masse.”

Chamberlain made the calculations based on the real-world earnings of workers who’ve participated in Glassdoor salary reports, not on cost-of-living differences between cities, and also found

  • The jobs packing the biggest pay cuts for workers leaving New York City are account managers (14.2%), analysts (13.5%) and lawyers (13.1%).
  • Workers leaving San Jose, San Francisco and New York City would see their paychecks shrink the most. On average, across the 25 common jobs Glassdoor examined, workers leaving San Jose would see salaries fall 24.6%, San Francisco 21.7%, New York City 9.8% and Seattle 9.7%.
  • Workers moving away from Denver, Minneapolis and Houston would, on average, see their base pay adjused by less than 1%.

Not all remote workers or workers who are relocating would face pay cuts in line with the Glassdoor estimates. But even if workers are not recalled to corporate campuses and office buildings post-COVID-19, geography will continue to be a major factor in how they are compensated, Chamberlain says.

“I don’t think it’s realistic that all work-from-home people will end up being paid the same. That’s basically what this data suggests,” he says. “Any workers, especially in tech, and workers leaving San Francisco or New York should expect cost-of-living adjustments between 10 and 30%, depending on role and where they go.”

Read more at USA Today.