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Published: Aug 30, 2022 4 min read
Woman Sitting Down At Kitchen Table Looking At Laptop
Money; Shutterstock

The Great Resignation may be waning, but workers are still looking for a raise.

Since April of last year, people have searched for jobs that pay $20 per hour more than they’ve searched for jobs that pay $15 per hour, according to a new analysis from Indeed’s Hiring Lab. That’s a change from 2019 and 2020, when job searches on Indeed's platform that mentioned “$15” outnumbered those that mentioned “$20.”

Over the last year, searches for jobs with $20-per-hour wages have spiked more than 35%, while searches for $15 wages have fallen more than 57%, Indeed’s data shows. The portion of searches run in hopes of finding $25-per-hour pay has also risen.

In her analysis, Indeed Economist AnnElizabeth Konkel attributed the change to two factors: wage gains for hourly workers, which clocked in at 5.9% last month, and rising prices for everyday essentials like groceries and gas.

“Once job seekers know it’s possible to attain a higher wage, their expectations may shift and act as a pull factor in searching for a higher dollar amount,” Konkel wrote. At the same time, she added, inflation has made just about everything more expensive, pushing workers to seek higher pay.

Hourly employees aren't the only ones angling for a big payday. Survey data released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that the average reservation wage — the lowest paycheck a person is willing to accept for a new job — rose to $72,873 in July from $68,954 a year earlier.

Hourly workers get a raise, but inflation is eating away at paychecks

The federal minimum wage is still just $7.25 an hour (and has been stuck there since 2009). But relatively few employees actually earn that little. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 1.4% of all hourly workers earned the federal minimum wage or less in 2021. That said, costs have risen so much and vary so much across the country that even workers who make significantly more than $7.25 an hour are struggling.

A majority of states and many cities and counties have now enacted minimum wages that are higher than $7.25, and a report from the National Employment Law Project found that 44 cities and counties will have minimum wages that exceed $15 per hour for at least some workers by the end of 2022.

Some states and cities also have minimum wage rules that are tied to inflation. As a result, more than a dozen states will see automatic increases in 2023, according to Bloomberg Law.

That’s not to mention the recent increases in the private sector, many of which came in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic as the labor market tilted in favor of workers. Major employers like Amazon, Target, Costco and Hobby Lobby have been raising their own minimum pay to $15 per hour or higher — even in states where the minimum wage is much lower — to attract employees and stay competitive.

And new laws could push pay even higher: This week, the California State Senate passed a bill that would allow a new council to set wages for fast food workers as high as $22 per hour next year. California’s governor has yet to sign the bill into law, and it’s not yet clear whether he intends to do so.

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