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Many Older Workers Think They're Underpaid

But few are considering switching jobs because of it, a survey shows

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Nearly half of older workers feel like they’re not paid enough, slightly fewer than younger generations. But unlike their Gen Z, millennial and Gen X counterparts, far fewer would consider switching jobs if they don’t get a raise.​

In a new survey of more than 2,800 U.S. workers by staffing service Robert Half, 45 percent of workers age 55 and older said they think that they’re underpaid. That compares with 57 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds, 50 percent of those ages 25 to 40 and 48 percent of Gen Xers.​​

But when it comes to actually doing something about their discontent, only 14 percent of 55-plus workers would consider quitting if their pay isn’t increased by their current employer by the end of the year. That compares with nearly half — 48 percent — of 18-to-24-year-olds, 40 percent of those ages 25 to 40 and 23 percent of those ages 40 to 54.​​

“Job security could factor into older workers’ interest levels in switching jobs,” Trey Barnette, a regional director for Robert Half, explained via email. “While a recruiter might be calling and offering an enticing opportunity with a bigger salary, an employee who’s invested a lot of time and energy into their career might be apprehensive about exploring a new opportunity.”​​

Older employees also may not be making their decisions strictly on salary numbers, Barnette said. Benefits such as 401(k) matches and paid time off could entice someone to stay in a position.​

​Robert Half also found that the most sought-after benefits across all age groups include flexible work schedules (66 percent), remote work options (56 percent) and employee discounts (37 percent). A separate survey of hiring managers found that 6 in 10 initially will search locally for candidates when filling a job opening and then expand outside their city if it takes too long to find skilled candidates.​

​Robert Half says that starting salaries for professional occupations in the U.S. are expected to increase by 3.8 percent in 2022, with the highest bumps for specialties such as revenue cycle analyst (8.1 percent) and database administrator (6.9 percent).​

Patrick Kiger is a contributing writer for AARP. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including The Los Angeles Times Magazine, GQ, Mother Jones, and websites of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

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