The median raise -- if you got one -- easily beats inflation this year

Man standing atop steps formed from dollar bill

Congrats! You're getting a bump in pay.

Data collected and analyzed by the Hay Group says Americans can expect a median raise of about 3% from their employers this year.

That's nearly twice the rate of inflation over the past 12 months -- the Consumer Price Index is up just 1.7% since July 2011.

But it’s still less than we typically enjoyed before the financial crisis and recession.

Median salary increases ran between 3.5% and 4% before everything fell apart in 2008, according to the human resources consulting firm based in Philadelphia.

Of course, workers in some parts of the economy will fare better than others when raises are given out.

Employees in the gas and oil industries can expect a 4% median raise.

But others will do a little worse than average.

The Hay Group says nursing and clinical employees can look forward only to a 2.5% hike.

What should you do with the extra money?

Save it.

If you haven't maxed out contributions to your 401(k) plan, it’s incredibly smart to roll the extra money into your retirement plan.

This is one of the best tricks around for boosting your savings.

You won’t miss money you’ve never had, and you’ll be surprised at how much faster your balance will grow. (Let our 401(k) calculator show you.)

That goes double if you're not taking full advantage of any employer match.

Think of your match like this: You give me a dollar. I take your dollar and then hand you $1.50.

Why? Because I said I'd match 50% of your contribution for participating in my plan.

Employers benefit from participation in their 401(k) plan, and so do you. Many companies will match half of your contribution up to 6% of your gross salary.

Join all of the savvy savers following on Twitter and Facebook.

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