Poll: Four in 10 U.S. workers think they are underpaid

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At least 43 percent of U.S. workers think they are underpaid.

That’s according to a recent Gallup poll.

At the same time, 50 percent say they are paid about right and 5 percent think they are overpaid.

The percentage saying they are underpaid is the same as it was eight years ago, the last time Gallup asked the question — a time when unemployment was much higher and optimism about the availability of good jobs far lower than it is now.

According to Gallup, things have dramatically improved for workers and the economy during the 8 years between polls:

  • The nation’s unemployment rate for July 2018 stands at 3.9 percent, the third month this year it has been at least that low after having been above 4.0 percent for the previous 17 years. When Gallup asked the question in early August 2010, the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.
  • Only 10 percent of Americans thought it was a good time to find a quality job in August 2010, compared with 65 percent now.

In addition, Gallup’s national study of employee engagement is currently registering the highest percentage of “engaged” workers — defined as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace” — in its 18-year history, tying the March 2016 reading of 34 percent.

Despite those indicators of economic progress over the past eight years, real wage growth for American workers has been tepid. In the years leading up to the recession, hourly wages often increased by 4 percent annually, but in recent years, increases from year to year have ranged between 2 percent and 3 percent.

The slow growth of wages provides one possible explanation why Americans are still as likely to feel underpaid now as they did when unemployment was so much higher and optimism about good jobs so much lower.

You can read the completer Gallup poll and the in-depth analysis here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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