Salary Survey: Half Of Workers Are Willing To Share Their Salary (And The Other Half Are Losing Out)

By Kathy Morris - Jan. 19, 2021

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How much do you make?

If you’re like most American workers, that question makes you feel pretty uncomfortable. It can be the social equivalent of asking someone how much they weigh- a deeply personal and sensitive question you might not want to answer.

To better understand the impact of salary transparency in the workplace, we surveyed just under 1,500 American workers. The result? Tight lips equal light bank accounts.

Key Findings

Other Findings

  • 30% of workers would not be comfortable sharing their salaries at all.
  • Another are 20% uncertain about whether or not they’d share how much they make.
  • Only 45% of workers feel they are adequately paid; Another 25% say they are “somewhat” fairly paid.
  • 25-34 year olds are most comfortable sharing salary information- a whopping 58% are willing to discuss salary.
  • Those over 45 are least willing to share their salary at work.
  • Half of workers would ask for more money if they knew coworkers made more than them.
  • It pays to make friends: 29% of workers report they would only feel comfortable discussing salary at work with close, friendly coworkers.
  • Good luck finding our your boss’ salary: Only 6% would feel comfortable telling someone who directly reports to them how much they make.

What age group is most transparent about pay?

Workers 25-34 years old are most comfortable sharing salary information- a whopping 58% are willing to discuss salary. Who is less eager to share? Older workers. In particular, those over 45.

As this age group ages and advances in their careers, this open attitude could increase salary transparency. However, it is possible younger workers will shed their desire to freely share salary information as they are promoted.

Does Salary Transparency Lead To Higher Pay?

Workers expecting a large raise were most likely to say, without reservations, they would would share their salary.

Knowledge is power. In particular, when it comes to salary negotiations. Combined with 50% of our respondents reporting they would ask for money if they knew colleagues made more, it presents a compelling narrative.

Workers are more likely to ask for money when they have insider information and are aware of company payrolls. Similarly, employers are less likely to reward generous raises or salaries when not asked.

Methodology, a career resource website, conducted a study of 1,438 American workers to better understand salary transparency in the American workplace. All workers were recruited through Amazon’s M. Turk. Each worker was asked, in addition to demographic questions, the same 7 simple questions on their thoughts involving sharing salary in the workplace.

Vermont and South Dakota were excluded due to sample size.

Keeping Quiet Can Cost You

Discussing salary can be uncomfortable.

Finding out you make more (or less) than a coworker can be socially unpleasant and might even hurt some feelings. However, it also might help you negotiate a higher wage and know if you are being grossly underpaid.

Hidden salaries only benefit employers. Even if you are personally fairly compensated, your coworkers might not be as lucky. Lack of salary transparency can heighten gender and racial salary inequities.

So next a coworker asks how much you make, you should consider telling them. It might just make you all a bit better off.

Percent Of Workers Who Discuss Salary At Work

State Percent
Alabama 48.8%
Alaska 59.1%
Arizona 63.6%
Arkansas 80.0%
California 56.1%
Colorado 54.8%
Connecticut 22.2%
Delaware 57.1%
Florida 49.1%
Georgia 50.0%
Hawaii 50.0%
Idaho 0.0%
Illinois 30.0%
Indiana 66.7%
Iowa 84.6%
Kansas 53.8%
Kentucky 73.3%
Louisiana 50.0%
Maine 50.0%
Maryland 62.5%
Massachusetts 40.9%
Michigan 45.5%
Minnesota 52.4%
Mississippi 22.2%
Missouri 58.8%
Montana 50.0%
Nebraska 50.0%
Nevada 28.6%
New Hampshire 33.3%
New Jersey 34.5%
New Mexico 16.7%
New York 51.3%
North Carolina 41.9%
Ohio 48.4%
Oklahoma 35.3%
Oregon 28.6%
Pennsylvania 47.4%
Rhode Island 0.0%
South Carolina 46.9%
South Dakota 0.0%
Tennessee 56.0%
Texas 50.0%
Utah 57.1%
Virginia 52.5%
Washington 45.8%
West Virginia 53.8%
Wisconsin 66.7%
Wyoming 50.0%

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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