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The lowest salary Americans will accept at a new job reached a record high

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More people are looking for a new job, and they have high salary expectations.

The lowest average pay people would be willing to accept a new job reached $81,822 as of March, a new series high since 2014. And it’s a big jump from November, when respondents said they’d need an offer of $73,391, on average, to take a new job.

That’s according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s latest consumer expectations survey, which is fielded every four months.

For comparison, the typical full-time U.S. worker earns a median $60,000 per year, according to Labor Department data. But to live comfortably by traditional budgeting advice, the average person needs to earn upwards of $89,000 — closer to the latest data on salary expectations — according to a recent analysis from SmartAsset.

“New hires are negotiating their offers at very high rates and are behaving as though they have a lot of bargaining power and leverage,” says ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak.

She says turnover is still high within in-person and on-site industries like manufacturing and education, which could give those workers more leverage to expect higher salaries.

And despite a hiring slowdown, ZipRecruiter data shows more companies are actively recruiting to hire for open roles, and they’re also extending more counteroffers to keep employees from quitting.

Men expect almost $30,000 more at a new job than women

The recent jump in pay expectations was driven by men, workers under 45 years old and those with a household income of $60,000.

The salary expectations gap between men and women increased, Bloomberg reported. Men said the lowest offer they’d accept to change jobs was $95,500 in March, compared with women who said they’d switch roles for $66,300.

Today’s expectations gender gap of $29,200 is higher than it was years ago just as the pandemic hit the U.S. when the difference between men and women’s pay expectations was $21,700.

Pollak says this widening gap could be due to how drastically the pool of women workers has changed since the pandemic. Tight labor markets pulled in new workers to fill jobs, and women saw marked results: Female participation in the labor force is the highest it’s ever been. Their lower pay expectations may account for women who previously didn’t work or are taking part-time jobs, Pollak says.

Women are also overrepresented in lower paid industries.

On the whole, however, the U.S. gender wage gap is the smallest it’s ever been on record, with full-time working women being paid 84 cents for every $1 paid to a man.

Jobseekers are on the rise

Meanwhile, more people say they’re on the job market, according to the New York Fed survey. As of March, 25% of people said they looked for a new job in the past four weeks (the highest in a decade), compared to 23% who said the same thing in November.

Many candidates say it feels impossible to get a job today, despite a job market that looks strong on paper. Experts say hiring is slowing down at the same time that candidates’ expectations for pay and more flexible work are rising.

Looking ahead, more people are eyeing early retirement and are less likely to consider working as they age. Just 46% of people expect to be working past age 62, a record low, while 31% think they’ll be working past age 67.

Pollak says people nearing retirement may feel optimistic about their options because “the large increase in stock market participation and housing wealth among people in that age group, since Covid, has made some people think they can afford to retire early.”

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