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Pay Transparency Has Soared in the Past Three Years


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​Heightened employee expectations and new laws requiring disclosure in some parts of the country mean more employers are adding salary information to their job postings. Now, a new report shows just how much pay transparency has grown.

More than 40 percent of U.S. job postings on Indeed now include employer-provided salary information, an increase of 137 percent in the past three years, according to data recently released by the Austin, Texas-based jobs site. In February, 43.7 percent of job postings advertised employer-provided salary information, up from the 18.4 percent that did so in February 2020.

Although it makes sense that a sharp climb would occur as a result of new laws requiring salary disclosure in job postings, the research notes that regulations are not the only factor. "Pay transparency has risen significantly in the past year, driven in part by new regulations requiring disclosure in job postings, but we observed an increase even in areas without these pay disclosure requirements," the researchers noted.

And the trend will surely continue, researchers noted, as more laws are passed and more job seekers expect that job postings will include a salary range.

The Indeed survey comes on the heels of another survey from Seattle-based compensation software firm Payscale, which noted similar results. The firm's annual Compensation Best Practices Report, released in February, also noted that the number of organizations including pay ranges in job postings has more than doubled since last year—from 22 percent in 2022 to 45 percent now.

"Obviously, the pay transparency legislation has a big part in forcing organizations to be more transparent about their pay and job postings," said Lulu Seikaly, senior corporate employment attorney at Payscale. "But we also see the social pressures of the TikTok and Gen Z generations who are speaking out much more vocally on social media, saying to their employer, 'This isn't taboo anymore. We should be talking more openly about pay.' "

Variations in Location, Occupation

Some industries and regions of the country are more likely to add salary information to job postings, the Indeed data noted.

Pay transparency is most common in the West—where regulations are most prevalent—and lowest in the South, which Indeed said accounted for 18 of the 20 least transparent metro areas.

Between February 2022 and 2023, pay transparency in job listings in Seattle—Washington state now requires most employers to disclose salaries—jumped about 166 percent, while salary advertising in the San Francisco Bay Area jumped 185 percent. The San Jose metropolitan area saw a staggering 268 percent increase in transparency. California is home to 8 of the 10 metro areas with the fastest growth in transparency; the Golden State's new pay transparency law went into effect Jan. 1.

But other states are disclosing pay without regulations. Employers in Utah, for instance, are disclosing pay though there is no state mandate to do so. The number of job postings disclosing pay in the Provo-Orem, Utah, metropolitan area jumped nearly 27 percent between February 2022 and 2023; the number climbed nearly 30 percent in Salt Lake City.

Job postings for positions in child care, security and public safety, and dentistry are the most transparent about salary ranges, Indeed research found, while the scientific research and development, engineering, and banking and finance industries typically are the least transparent.

And while pay transparency is highest in low- and middle-wage job postings, high-wage roles are catching up, according to Indeed. "Over the last year, the most significant rise in transparency has occurred in high-wage jobs, which have historically provided less pay information upfront," researchers said.

One big reason for the spike in pay transparency is that employees—and job seekers—are calling for the practice. That is especially important as the job market remains largely employee-driven; employers are looking for a variety of ways to attract and retain talent, and disclosing salaries is one way to do so. Recent SHRM research found that 70 percent of organizations that list pay ranges in job postings say doing so has led to more people applying, while 66 percent said disclosing pay has increased the quality of applicants they're seeing. And 65 percent of companies that list pay ranges said it makes them more competitive in attracting top talent.

Meanwhile, a report from ResumeLab, a career advice website, found that 4 out of 5 workers said they are unlikely to apply to a job that doesn't provide a pay range. Fourteen percent said they weren't sure, and just 6 percent said not having a salary range was unlikely to have an impact on their applying for a job.

Knowing and seeing a pay range, said Amy Stewart, Payscale's associate director of content marketing, is "an enormous benefit to job seekers, and it shows a progressive lens and a likely more satisfying work experience for employers that are able to publish those ranges, whereas those that don't might feel like more of a risk. And that can impact the quality of candidates that [employers] get."

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