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Workers rate what they consider a successful wage is

July 8, 2012

Study Reveals What Salary Level Equals Success,
By Career Builder

How much do you need to earn to be successful? A new study from CareerBuilder finds that lofty salaries aren’t always part of the definition. The vast majority of U.S. workers – 75 percent – don’t feel that they need to earn six figures in order to be successful. Twenty-eight percent said they would feel successful earning between $50,000 and $70,000 while 23 percent reported they would feel successful earning less than $50,000. One in ten said they need to pull in $150,000 or more. The CareerBuilder study, conducted by Harris Interactive© from February 9 to March 2, 2012, included more than 5,700 workers across industries.

Most U.S. workers reported they currently earn their desired salary (23 percent) or are close to it (45 percent). Nearly one-third (32 percent) said they are not anywhere near their target pay level.

“While compensation is definitely important, workers don’t necessarily equate success with hefty incomes,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder. “Often you’ll see intangibles such as the ability to make a difference, a sense of accomplishment and work/life balance eclipses the size of a paycheck in what matters most to workers.”

How do men and women compare?

Men were nearly twice as likely as women to say that they would need to earn six figures to be successful – 32 percent of men compared to 17 percent of women. Incidentally, looking at current salary levels, men were more than twice as likely as women to actually earn $100,000 or more.

How do industries compare?

The definition of success in relation to salary varied among industries. Workers in Information Technology (48 percent), Sales (38 percent) and Financial Services (37 percent) were the most likely to report they would need to earn six figures to feel successful. Workers in Retail (36 percent), Hospitality (33 percent) and Manufacturing (22 percent) were the most likely to report they would feel successful earning less than $50,000.

When was the last time workers received a merit raise?

As companies recover and rebuild post-recession, workers are reporting significant gaps between raises. Forty-nine percent of workers reported they have not had a merit increase since 2010. Twenty-five percent have not had a merit increase since before 2008.

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