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More Employers Post Salary Ranges to Attract Workers

Sectors reporting labor shortages more often listing pay

A stack of dollar bills on a black background.

​The number of U.S. job postings that include salary ranges has been on the rise this year as employers struggle to attract and hire workers in an increasingly tight labor market.

Data analytics firm Emsi Burning Glass found that about 12 percent of job postings across all occupations offered wage information this spring, up from 8 percent in the same period in 2019. The data focused on employers' careers sites, filtering out public job boards that sometimes include their own wage estimates, and omitted data from 2020 due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of job listings disclosing wages remains small overall, but the increases from 2019 are noteworthy, especially in the sectors and for the roles hit hardest by the pandemic:

  • Fast-food workers: from 4 percent to 11 percent.
  • Restaurant hosts: from 5 percent to 14 percent.
  • Nurses: from 6 percent to 18 percent.
  • Those working in entertainment and recreation: from 10 percent to 19 percent.

"We do think this is happening because of the hiring difficulty and labor shortages," said Rucha Vankudre, a research manager at Emsi Burning Glass. "Job seekers are in a better negotiating place right now, and employers want to stand out to attract them."

In HR, offers including pay information rose from 6 percent to 10 percent for managers, and from 6 percent to 9 percent for front-line workers, Vankudre said.

The findings were no surprise to Todd Bavol, president and CEO of Integrity Staffing Solutions, a nationwide staffing firm based in Newark, Del. Bavol believes that the number of job posts with salary ranges will continue to grow.

"I was only surprised that the increase was not at a faster pace," he said. "Yes, the increased promotion of pay data is related to the labor shortages, but also to candidate expectations right now," Bavol said. "It's a candidates' job market in many sectors. More candidates are expecting more transparency from employers. To apply for a job takes time, and before they invest that time, they want to make sure the job is worth it, and the financial rewards play a big role in that decision-making."

The lack of transparency on pay has long been a complaint from job seekers. "We have heard back from candidates that finding out later in the process that the pay doesn't really fit their needs can be very frustrating," Bavol said. "That's why we include pay ranges in most of our job postings. We chose to do that to ensure that people had confidence that if they take the time to go through the hiring process, they know what to expect from a financial rewards perspective."

He added that posting a role's salary range ensures that neither the employer nor job seeker wastes the other's time.

But employers historically and still commonly have been reluctant to advertise their salaries, fearing that they'll pay more than a job seeker is willing to accept or that current employees will feel underpaid.

Employer clients have told Bavol that additional concerns include compensation disclosures being used against them by competitors, cost-of-living variances to consider and a potentially great candidate being dissuaded from applying if they fall outside a posted range.    

"I know employers that will try to make a fit work outside their range for the right candidate," he said. "And over the past few years, anyone can go to Glassdoor or PayScale and get a pretty good idea about market pay, removing some of the secrecy."

Vankudre said she expects the trend to continue in the months and years ahead, not only because of labor shortages and hiring difficulty but also due to political pressure requiring salary ranges be made available to job seekers.

A new law in Colorado does just that: Employers with workers or job openings in the state must post wage information in their job ads, said Michelle Muhleisen, an attorney in the Denver office of Ogletree Deakins.

"Employers covered by the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, Part 2 will now have to post wage and benefit information for all covered promotional opportunities and job openings, including remote jobs that can be performed anywhere, unless that work is specifically tied to a non-Colorado worksite," she said.

"Colorado is nudging the country toward having a more informed labor market," said Scott Moss, director of the division of labor standards and statistics at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, which has been following up on tips about companies that aren't compliant. In fact, while the increase in job listings with salary information is evident across the country, the biggest jump occurred in Colorado—from 12 percent in 2019 to 48 percent this past spring, Vankudre said.

Employers in California and Maryland must provide wage ranges to job applicants upon request, and Connecticut will soon require companies to disclose wage ranges for open jobs.

Bavol advised employers hesitant about revealing their wage ranges to consider posting the range but stating that the salary is negotiable.

[Want to learn more about compensation and talent acquisition? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]


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