In April 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that average hourly earnings increased 0.4% in the month of March. When examined over a 12-month period, hourly earnings rose 5.6% more than what economists had predicted.
Despite the optimistic rise in jobs since the market took a heavy blow with the pandemic, it seems that for many people, job availability doesn’t quite solve the issue at hand.
Premise conducted a survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. Contributors in the month of March, asking our Contributors to share their feelings on the job market and compensation. The results we uncovered tell a slightly different story than the one the Bureau’s report conveys.
Here are 5 key takeaways we found when comparing our survey results to the report:
For many, the increase in hourly pay isn’t enough
Of the Contributors surveyed, nearly 70% said their current compensation wasn’t enough to get by on a day-to-day basis. When looking at the increase in average hourly wage presented in the report, it’s apparent that for many households the rise in wages isn’t necessarily having an impact on their livelihoods.
The increases over a year-long period are a positive indicator of wages arriving at a point where low to middle-income households can live comfortably. However, our survey shows we still have some ways to go before we get there.
Saving has become increasingly difficult
A third of Contributors weren’t able to save during the month of March, despite the reported opportunity to earn more in wages. The current cost of living doesn’t seem to be allowing for most households to set aside some of their paychecks for retirement, investing, etc.
“Approximately half of Americans are at risk of not being able to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living after they stop working,” said Angie Chen, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, in a recent article from CNBC.
With Contributors struggling to afford their basic daily living expenses, the risk Chen refers to can certainly stem from people needing to focus on the present. They aren’t afforded the luxury of thinking about setting themselves up for the future.
Most Contributors don’t require further training in their fields
Our survey shows there’s no debate to be had on the popularity of attending job training and skills development programs in the U.S among some groups of workers. There are likely plenty of reasons why almost all don’t attend – a ‘waste of money,’ already feeling well-qualified, not having time.
This isn’t to say people feel negatively about the programs themselves — they just don’t have the means or the time to develop their skills. The bureau’s report states that “the labor force participation rate increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 62.4%, to within 1 point of its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The labor force grew by 418,000 workers and is now within 174,000 of the pre-pandemic state.”
With many back at work, there’s little room for employees to develop their skills or participate in programs that will grow their careers. Fortune recently reported that an estimated 85 million jobs will go unfilled globally due to skills shortages. U.S. Contributors seem to be putting these skills development programs on hold until something changes, therefore hindering their ability to move up into higher positions.
But what is that something? Who’s to know for sure, but our survey indicates it’s not what you likely expected.
There’s a faith in the U.S. economy
More than 50% of the U.S. Contributors we surveyed believed that the reason they’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel is that the economy has made a turnaround. In our survey, no other option even really comes close.
Though the economy isn’t where it needs to be based on the other questions from our survey, people are still taking the report as a positive indicator for things to come. With the Bureau’s report stating 431,000 new jobs have been created and the general resilience businesses have shown, people seem to be optimistic about where the U.S. economy is headed.
The second-most prominent reason was an increase in government jobs, with just 19% of Contributors.
Compensation is NOT the most important factor
The phrase “be your own boss” seems to have never applied more, as a full third of U.S. Contributors see operating on their own schedule as the prime appeal for an occupation. Work schedule beat out ‘salary’ by a full 9%.
The work-from-home environment created a workspace many grew accustomed to and even thrived in. Quality of life factors more into pay, which also could have a direct correlation with the sentiment of not having enough income to pay for basic needs. If salary is second to a free work schedule, then it can be inferred that many of our respondents could be giving up potential jobs because of the hours required.
If they’re not able or willing to work specific hours deemed by the company, then they are limited to jobs that are – jobs that do not pay as much. It appears many U.S. Contributors could reach an income that satisfies their basic needs if they just switched up their criteria for a new job.
The results from Premise’s survey were surprising when compared to the BLS’s jobs report for March. We look forward to seeing how the job market develops over the next month and reporting back in April.
To learn more, visit www.premise.com