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Underpaid Employees


People often claim that, in capitalism, employers do not pay workers what they are worth. This can become a vicious cycle, where hard-earned workers rights are withered away, denying incomes to tens of millions of workers, even while many businesses and institutions thrive, thanks in part to the money they save from the overtime wages that are not paid.

U.S. companies frequently pay below minimum wages, force employees to work off-the-clock, or refuse to pay overtime rates. For jobs paying less than $75,000 per year, companies spend on average 20% of the employees annual salary finding replacements to fill the role, according to a Center for American Progress analysis. The cost of replacing a worker increases in tandem with the pay, since high-paying jobs typically require more specialization and training.

If you have been at the company a significant period of time, say, a year to two years or longer, and have not seen a raise, then you might be being underpaid. If you notice that your company is advertising jobs that pay higher salaries, but are similar in responsibility to yours, you could be underpaid. If you see your companys job listings offering a salary range that is equal or higher than the one you are making, this could be an indication you deserve a raise.

If you started your job and you have been with the same company at the same department for several years, even decades, it is good to take a look at how your salary stacks up against market averages. Be sure to compare your salary with that of other employees, at both your company and at other companies. If your employer reacts negatively to your discussions, you might consider looking for positions outside your organization, where you would receive more equity.

One way to ensure greater transparency is by reaching out directly to employees via surveys and other engagement tactics, but 38% of employers are not asking workers for their satisfaction with compensation. With the race to recruit new talent reaching fever pitch in 2021, employers must make themselves transparent about pay, and they may even have to raise basic salaries in order to keep current employees and recruit new recruits. In a recent interview with LearnVest, Dr. Robin Pinckley, professor of management at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University and the author of Get Paid What You Are Worth, was quick to note that, although we might feel like we are deserving what is fair, this is working against us in ways we do not even realize. Women, especially, feel like companies are going to pay women what they are deserving on a basis of merit.

The BLS recently reported that, for civilian workers, wages and salaries are an average of 69.1% of overall compensation, and benefits are 30.9% of overall compensation. Workers said that a $15 minimum wage is not now commensurate with the amount of work and duties that they do, nor is it sufficient to keep pace with rising costs of living.

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