Breeze Logo

Survey: What salary cap would you be satisfied with?

shutterstock 648579007

In February, Amazon announced it was more than doubling its maximum base pay to $350,000 for some of its corporate and tech employees.

The salary cap increase was in response to the ever-increasing competition for top talent, which is partially due to the Great Resignation and a shift in the employer-employee power balance towards the latter.

Across the workforce, emboldened employees will happily quit in search of greener pastures if they don't get what they deserve: higher pay, remote flexibility, and a strong benefits package.

The salary cap increase by Amazon got us here at Breeze thinking: "At what salary cap would the everyday US employee be satisfied with?"

In other words, at what maximum salary at any point in their career would they be content with?

$50,000? $100,000? $250,000?

Would they lower that number if they had remote flexibility?

We surveyed 1,500 US employees to find out...

The results

Note: If you'd like to see the raw data or data broken down by location, gender, race, age, etc., please email me at [email protected] Some answers may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

1,500 adult US employees were posed a series of questions that all followed this structure: "Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $xx,xxx (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $xx,xxx)?

Here's how they answered:

  • 39% would be satisfied maxing out at $50,000
  • 51% would be satisfied maxing out at $65,000
  • 61% would be satisfied maxing out at $75,000
  • 71% would be satisfied maxing out at $90,000
  • 78% would be satisfied maxing out at $100,000
  • 81% would be satisfied maxing out at $115,000
  • 83% would be satisfied maxing out at $125,000
  • 86% would be satisfied maxing out at $150,000
  • 90% would be satisfied maxing out at $200,000
  • 91% would be satisfied maxing out at $250,000
  • 93% would be satisfied maxing out at $350,000
  • 94% would be satisfied maxing out at $500,000

It's worth noting that the average annual salary in the US is $51,168 according to the most recent data.

The results by gender

The gender pay gap continues to be a problem in the US, with women earning 84% of what men earn. This from Pew Research:

Even though women have increased their presence in higher-paying jobs traditionally dominated by men, such as professional and managerial positions, women as a whole continue to be overrepresented in lower-paying occupations relative to their share of the workforce. This may contribute to gender differences in pay.

With this in mind, we broke down the data by gender.

The results when broken down by gender are encouraging in that female respondents are not as ready as male respondents to settle for a lower maximum salary.

The results by state

The final breakdown we did was by state, which is becoming a very interesting conversation as remote work blurs the geographic lines that have historically had a big influence on pay.

For example, in 2021 Google provided its employees with a calculator so they could see how their pay could be cut according to location if they opted for full-time remote work. Facebook and Twitter were two other corporate giants that announced they would cut pay for employees who moved to less expensive areas.

On the other hand, Reddit and Zillow introduced "location-agnostic pay models" that decide pay based on role and qualifications, not location.

For this analysis, we used the first salary cap, $50,000, as the baseline to compare states as that is the closest figure to the national average annual salary. States that did not have at least 10 respondents were not included in the analysis.

55% would lower their cap if they had remote flexibility

The final question of this survey asked all 1,500 employed respondents the following: "If you were granted remote/hybrid flexibility for the remainder of your career (never have to be in the office full-time again), would you be satisfied with a lower maximum salary cap than what you previously answered?"

The majority of workers would indeed be content with a lower maximum salary if they had remote flexibility for the remainder of their careers.

This falls in line with a previous Breeze study that found workers were willing to take pay cuts to hold onto remote work.

Many employees have come to love remote work and the freedom it provides. As long as remote employees continue to produce quality work in a timely manner, employers (for the most part) don't have any problem with the shift.

Remote flexibility should be here to stay, especially if employers are looking to attract and retain the best available talent.

Protecting your income

Regardless of how much money you make, protecting your income can provide an incredibly valuable financial safety net.

Income protection insurance, otherwise known as disability insurance, replaces a portion of your income if a qualifying injury or illness leaves you too sick or hurt to work and earn a paycheck. Qualifying events can be physical injuries, medical illnesses, or mental health issues.

If you're unable to make an income for an extended period of time, disability insurance can ensure you're able to keep paying bills, whether it's rent, groceries, or daycare for your children.

There's two types of disability insurance. Long term disability insurance is meant for more severe ailments like a permanent disability or cancer. This product typically replaces between 60% and 80% of your monthly income and can last 2, 5, or 10 years or until the ages of 65 or 67.

Then there's short term disability insurance, which is intended for more temporary injuries or illnesses like a broken hand. This type of income protection replaces between 40% and 60% of your monthly income and usually lasts between three and six months.

You can use the online platform here at Breeze to find out what your disability insurance cost might be. Breeze provides disability insurance quotes in 30 seconds and enables you to apply in just 10 minutes, entirely online.

Curious what disability insurance costs? Check your rate here

Methodology

All data found within this report derives from a survey created and commissioned by Breeze and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, 1,500 adult actively-employed Americans were surveyed. The appropriate respondents were found via Pollfish’s age filtering feature, in addition to an employment filter to ensure only actively-employed adults were surveyed. This survey was conducted over a five-day span, starting on March 24th, 2022 and ending on March 28th, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities.

Full survey results

Notes: Some answers won't add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

If you'd like to see the raw data or data broken down by location, gender, race, age, etc., please email me at [email protected]

1. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $50,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $50,000)?

  • 39% answered "yes"
  • 61% answered "no"

2. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $65,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $65,000)?

  • 51% answered "yes"
  • 50% answered "no"

3. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $75,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $75,000)?

  • 61% answered "yes"
  • 40% answered "no"

4. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $90,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $90,000)?

  • 71% answered "yes"
  • 29% answered "no"

5. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $100,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $100,000)?

  • 78% answered "yes"
  • 22% answered "no"

6. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $115,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $115,000)?

  • 81% answered "yes"
  • 20% answered "no"

7. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $125,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $125,000)?

  • 83% answered "yes"
  • 18% answered "no"

8. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $150,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $150,000)?

  • 86% answered "yes"
  • 15% answered "no"

9. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $200,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $200,000)?

  • 90% answered "yes"
  • 11% answered "no"

10. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $250,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $250,000)?

  • 91% answered "yes"
  • 9% answered "no"

11. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $350,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $350,000)?

  • 93% answered "yes"
  • 8% answered "no"

12. Would you be satisfied if your maximum salary over the course of your working career capped out at $500,000 (regardless of jobs held throughout your career, you would never earn more than $500,000)?

  • 94% answered "yes"
  • 6% answered "no"

13. If you were granted remote/hybrid flexibility for the remainder of your career (never have to be in the office full-time again), would you be satisfied with a lower maximum salary cap than what you previously answered?

  • 55% answered "yes"
  • 45% answered "no"
Research
Published March 30, 2022