Are You Underpaid? Survey Finds 46 Percent of Workers Feel Shortchanged

October 25, 2018

By Diane Domeyer

alashi/Getty Images

How satisfied are U.S. workers with their compensation? Naturally, it depends who you ask. While nearly half of professionals (49 percent) surveyed by Robert Half feel they are paid fairly at their jobs, nearly an equal number (46 percent) think they are underpaid. The remaining 5 percent admitted to feeling overpaid.

More than 2,800 workers in 28 U.S. markets were surveyed for the study. The research was issued in conjunction with the release of The Creative Group 2019 Salary Guide, which provides starting salary ranges for 85 creative, digital, marketing, advertising, and public relations roles.

The research also revealed some trends:

  • Cities with the most workers who feel underpaid include San Diego (62 percent), Austin (54 percent), Houston (53 percent), Nashville (53 percent), and Philadelphia (52 percent).
  • Cities with the fewest professionals who report being underpaid include Miami (33 percent), Dallas (37 percent), New York (37 percent), Los Angeles (39 percent), and San Francisco (39 percent).
  • More workers ages 55 and older think they are compensated fairly (52 percent) than those ages 18 to 34 (44 percent) and 35 to 54 (51 percent).
  • Women (49 percent) were more apt to feel underpaid compared to men (44 percent).
  • Respondents with a bachelor's degree or higher, as well as those earning more than $100,000 per year, were most likely to say they're being paid fairly (50 percent and 57 percent, respectively).


What Employers Need to Know

It's a highly competitive hiring environment. Demand for creative and marketing talent remains strong and unemployment rates for many positions in the field are lower than the national average. This means it's crucial for companies to ensure the salaries they offer prospective and current employees are competitive to attract and keep top talent.

In addition, workers who have spoken with friends, family members, or recruiters about new opportunities may hear about better pay and perks offered elsewhere. If they find out they're being under-compensated, there's a good chance they'll head for greener pastures, which means retention should be a top priority.

While money is important, companies should not rely exclusively on compensation to satisfy and motivate employees. Organizations need to offer solid benefits, perks, and incentives, along with a positive corporate culture, to boost employee engagement and loyalty.


Diane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, digital, and marketing professionals. Learn more about The Creative Group Salary Guide.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

You must be logged in to submit a comment.