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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Salary ranges have widened for high-paying jobs as wage transparency spreads

A worker counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 2, 2022.  (By Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg )
By Natasha Solo-Lyons Bloomberg

As pay-transparency measures have increased across the U.S. and more job postings include details on compensation, a new study shows that advertised salary ranges are getting wider in higher-paying occupations.

The widest ranges were seen in tech hubs and states that have implemented pay transparency laws, according to the study from Indeed Hiring Lab.

While the ranges of pay listed for more typically white-collar jobs are widening, salary ranges for lower-paid roles have narrowed, the study shows.

Advertised salary ranges varied by as much as 20.7% in the Seattle metropolitan area in April, up from 14.3% in the same month last year.

In the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area, home to several large tech companies, the average ranges have widened to 25% from 17.5% over the same period.

While all pay transparency is designed to give job seekers access to more information about their earning potential, narrower salary ranges give a much clearer idea of what to expect.

The movement to make pay transparency mainstream in the U.S. has picked up steam over the past few years.

Colorado was the first state to enact a pay-transparency measure for job listings, which took effect in 2021.

Similar rules in Washington state, California and New York City weren’t far behind. Now more than half a dozen states have similar legislation under consideration or in effect.

Salary ranges widened most for remote and high-paying positions with historically low pay transparency, according to the report, while people looking for in-person and service oriented jobs were likely to see narrower salary ranges.

Professions including pharmacy, scientific research and software development were among those with the biggest ranges.

Positions in driving, child care, and food service each have tighter ranges than they did last year, giving job seekers more accurate information about what they could end up getting paid.

“Many of these in-person, low-paid jobs, the salary is such a big part of compensation for those roles,” said Cory Stahle, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab and author of the report, which analyzes published salary data extracted from postings on Indeed.

“For some of these higher paying roles, something like software development, there are a lot of different elements that go into that compensation,” Stahle said.

Tech companies and start-ups often offer stock options as part of compensation, and some roles come with large performance-based bonuses that don’t form part of a base salary.

The rise in pay transparency overall has been fastest among white-collar jobs, the study shows.

Overall, some 45% of U.S. job postings include some salary details, up from 20% before the pandemic.

Still, only one in five offers a precise salary, a metric that’s fallen over the same period.“While wider pay ranges may provide less precise information to job seekers, it is still better than having no salary information,” Stahle said.