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I know that the idea of "cost of living" pay raises are common in lots of industries outside of architecture. However, I was hoping to get feedback from everyone to see what their experience is/was regarding this in architecture. My professional experience in architecture is limited to a few small firms over almost a decade and I have never received a "cost of living" pay increase, however I have received other raises. In the recent, financially-lean years at the firms, we always stayed busy but money was tight because of clients inability to pay us. During that time, I had occasionally gone without receiving any pay increases (merit or otherwise) due to the lack of money.
So, what is everyone's experience with the idea of "cost of living" increases? Obviously over the years inflation has taken its toll on the cost of living, but when people are not given raises to help keep up with those increases you are essentially taking an inadvertent pay cut. I think we all know architecture is a chronically-defective industry in a variety of aspects and I was curious to see what other peoples' experiences have been like who work at larger, corporate firms, small boutique firms, middle-of-road firms, etc with relation to this. Anyone, please feel free to chime in. I would appreciate hearing of others experiences. Thanks.
Well, as you alluded to, regardless of what your performance has been or what you are even worth is still subject to whether there is any money available. Sometimes this is the honest truth, and other times it is just greed on the part of the people making the decision. More often it is a little bit of both.
.If companies always spent every dollar available to them, they would have no reserves, and would be apt to go out of business when things got tough. Architects offices aren't like some companies where they can sell off assets, or get loans easily, or sell stock to raise cash. Any smart small business owner has to have cash reserves. I would imagine many architects offices that were smart and had built up reserves have burned through them since the recession hit, and would be wary of spending till they built up reserves again.
It's unfortunate, but I think the employers are still holding all the good cards, and employees still pretty much have to take what they can get.
Large corporate firm, we just received raises for the first time in years. Since before I started working. They we're small enough to be considered cost of living increases but we're not called that.