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Unhappy With Your Salary? You Aren’t Alone. Here’s What to Do.

Topics: Negotiation
Are you happy with your salary? If you’re like most full-time workers in the U.S., the answer is probably no. Why are so many feeling unsatisfied?
unhappy with your salary
Allef Vinicius/Unsplash

Many workers are less that thrilled with their earnings these days. According to a 2018 Indeed survey, only 19 percent of workers are satisfied with their current pay. Issues like wage stagnation as well as rising inequality and declining labor share could be to blame.

Let’s dig into this issue a little more and investigate how you might turn things around. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Most workers aren’t satisfied

You have to earn a wage that allows for a certain degree of security in order to feel satisfied with your earnings. The tipping point seems to come at around $75k annually – the majority of workers who earn more report feeling happy with their salaries, according to a 2014 study from CareerBuilder.

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Only 19 percent of workers are satisfied with their current pay, according to an Indeed survey.Click To Tweet

Indeed’s research also indicated that men were more likely to feel satisfied with their salaries than women. However, a majority of both groups reported feeling dissatisfied overall.

See how the gender pay gap contributes to the problem. Read PayScale’s report, The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018.

2. Wage stagnation and income inequality are major factors

The economy, by many measures, is doing very well. The job market is particularly robust with just a 4.0 percent unemployment rate as of this past June. Why aren’t workers feeling the benefits?

Wage stagnation has been a problem for years. The PayScale Index, which tracks the earnings of employed U.S. workers, shows that real wages are now 9.3 percent lower than in 2006.

However, those working at the top are an exception. For decades, there have been large wage gains for people who already earn the most, while wages for workers at the bottom half of the income distribution have been declining or stagnant.

Are you earning the salary you deserve? Take our survey and find out.

3. Workers’ actions matter

You can’t do much about systemic forces keeping wages low … but you can make a strategy to raise your pay at your current job (or the next one).

  • First, it’s always important to know what you ought to be earning. Use PayScale’s Salary Survey to find out whether you’re being paid appropriately.
  • Also, consider negotiating your next job offer – it could do wonders for both your short-term and long-term earnings.
  • If you’ve never asked for a raise, now might be the time. PayScale’s data show that 75 percent of those who ask get some sort of pay increase. (However, research has found that men ask more often — and for good reason.)
  • Join a labor union if they’re available to workers in your industry. Research proves, time and time again, that union membership pays – these workers earn more than workers who don’t belong to unions.
  • Another way to increase your earnings to consider looking elsewhere. A successful career doesn’t have to mean staying in the same place for half a century anymore.

For more tips on getting paid what you deserve, read PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you satisfied with your current earnings? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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