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New CareerBuilder Study Reveals What Salary Level Equals Success, According to U.S. Workers

Half of Workers Have Not Had a Merit Raise; One in Four Have Not Had a Merit Raise Since Before 2008

Chicago, June 13, 2012 – 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.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 5,772 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over between February 9 and March 2, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 5,772, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-1.29 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset - their people. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 45 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis to recruitment support. More than 10,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder’s proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.


CareerBuilder Media Contact
For all media inquiries and interview requests, contact:

Jennifer Grasz
(P) 773-527-1164
(E) jennifer.grasz@careerbuilder.com