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Americans’ pay floor for accepting a new job rises to $73,000

Aug. 22, 2022 Updated Mon., Aug. 22, 2022 at 6:04 p.m.

A man counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Jakarta, Indonesia.   (Bloomberg )
A man counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Jakarta, Indonesia.  (Bloomberg )
By Alex Tanzi Bloomberg

The average reservation wage, or the lowest pay level that Americans would be willing to accept for a new job, rose by 5.7% from a year earlier to $72,873 in July, according to the latest labor-market survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The self-reported reservation wage has climbed faster among men and younger workers since the pandemic began, according to the New York Fed’s survey, which is conducted three times a year.

The overall figure was down slightly from a series high of $73,283 in the last study in March.

Inflation at close to four-decade highs has eaten into the purchasing power of U.S. employees, and most of them have seen a decline in real incomes over the past year.

While job openings have dropped from record levels, there were still 10.7 million positions available in June, allowing workers some bargaining power.

A record 22 states reported jobless rates at or below 3% in July, an indication of how tight labor markets have become.

The reservation wage reported by Americans with less than college degree, and those age 45 or younger, has risen by more than 23% since March 2020 when the pandemic began, according to the New York Fed.

The latest survey showed a widening split by gender. The reservation wage for men jumped to $86,259, while for women it declined to $59,543.

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