Last summer I was hired into the compensation department of a large retail corporation.
Other than sitting in a cubicle, putting up with the corporate pecking order, having a boss, and being forced to do the same routine day in and day out.. I actually kind of like my job.
The things I hate about it are the things that come standard with every office 9-5. It’s a shit system and we all know it but everyone just accepts it because they don’t realize it can be changed.
Anyway, before I get on a Anti-Corporate America rant, I want to outline 3 observations I’ve made from my time working with sensitive pay information.
The Gender Wage Gap
Yeah.. there isn’t one. At least not in my company’s file of 400,000+ employees where I can see it for myself.
I’ve personally witnessed multiple scenarios where men and women are brought into entry-level roles at the exact same salary so long as they have similar backgrounds in education and experience.
I think more and more people are waking up to the truth that women are almost never paid less in a role simply because they are women. Maybe there was a time when that was commonplace but it has long since passed.
The 77 cents on the dollar figure that we hear so much about stems from the fact that working women today age 22-65 have less years of consistent experience and more gaps in employment than working men age 22-65.
Obviously someone with more years experience will, on average, make more than someone who has less.
When you look at the male and female population as a whole, you will find that women work part-time in greater numbers than men do.
When I was growing up, I remember that half of my friends’ moms, including my own mom, worked part-time and had gaps in employment whereas the man of the house had been working non-stop since the age of 18.
One would think that clearly explains why the 77 cents on the dollar figure makes sense for the population as a whole. It’s because women as a whole are not working at the same level as men as a whole.
It’s not because individual women are being paid less for the same work and same experience as men.
If we want the 77 cents figure to close, that would require the female populace to work the same hours that men do and not have gaps in employment (also not majoring in unemployable degrees would help).
But I do have full confidence that multi-national corporations will eventually achieve the same output and full-time consistent
enslavement employment from the female populace as they continue their quest for world domination and cheap labor.
For further reading on the wage gap myth check out this post from Jack Murphy.
Transparent Salaries Of Your Peers and Superiors Keeps Everyone Honest
At the job prior to the one I have now, you could get fired for discreetly telling someone your own salary if you got caught.
The people running the show made sure everyone knew this so employees didn’t start secretly sharing information even if they trusted the other person and considered them a close friend.
But with half the office being under 30 and prone to weekend binge drinking, friendships were formed and secrets were told.
This was a smaller private company so the disparities in pay between two people doing the same job were sometimes shocking and based almost exclusively on office politics and how well liked you were by decision-makers.
They would keep the unliked analysts around $40,000 while the analysts who embraced the political game would be earning upwards of 60,000 (for the same job/same experience/same background).
One time I even referred a friend of mine to the company, and they ended up hiring him at $10k more than they offered me (simply because he lied about what his salary was at his old job). This was a hard lesson in why you should be a Machiavellian in the office.
Fast forward to my new job and I’m now in a role where I have access to every salary in the company, including the pay of my co-workers, my boss, my boss’s boss, so on and so forth.
Does it cause friction or any remote negative consequence? No, our compensation team works together just fine knowing full well that nobody is getting shafted on pay.. because we can all see it.
This leads me to believe that employees would be better off if everyone knew what everyone was making in their company.
Average Income Is Incredibly Depressing
I mentioned earlier that I work for a retail company. That means the majority of the positions are hourly, often times just the minimum wage depending on what state the job is in.
Average income in 2014 for an American worker filing single was $34,940 (1).
Kind of hard to live on that unless you’re out in a rural area.
There was a time when hourly workers were able to actually afford a good quality of life in America. My grandfather was an hourly laborer his entire life and was able to buy a home in Redondo Beach, California in 1950 for $12,000. That same home today is valued at about $1M.
I’m not joking.
Could an hourly blue collar worker in the 21st century afford a million dollar home in Southern California? I don’t think so.
Even when you account for inflation, housing and other essential costs have skyrocketed while the growth in wages has been marginal.
While the societal solution to this problem is hotly debated, the individual solution is clear.
You must supplement your income with side hustles. Especially us younger guys on those shit entry-level salaries.
Millennials do not have the luxury of relying on their employers to provide stable and steady income.
Instead, the answer is to leverage the power of the internet to create your own streams of income. I’m certain this is the way forward. And to the disciplined hustler, the American decline is nothing more than a blessing in disguise.