Inflation brings to the fore pay inequities this Equal Pay Day

  • Two-thirds of American workers feel like their pay is not adequate enough to cover the rising cost of inflation. 
  • Nearly 30% of American workers feel like they’re not paid fairly at work, with women being more likely to report feeling underpaid 
  • 71% of respondents say it’s important for a company to prioritize pay equity.

It is 2022 and yet, men are still paid disproportionately more than women. According to research from the Pew Research Center, women earn 82% of what men earn. Put differently, women have to work an additional 42 days per year to earn the same amount of cash as their male counterparts — that’s more than a month of work. Unresolved systemic issues, like the gender pay gap and racial inequalities, combined with economic factors like inflation and the great resignation, bring to the fore the need for equal pay within the American workforce. 

According to a study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma, two-thirds of American workers feel like their pay is not adequate enough to cover the rising cost of inflation, which reached another four-decade-high in February. Inflation aside, nearly 30% of workers feel like they’re not paid fairly at work with women being more likely to report feeling like they’re underpaid (33%), compared to a quarter of men. 

Current salaries are holding people back financially, especially women and minorities. 

Two in three women say their current salary is holding them back from reaching their financial goals, including paying off debt and saving for retirement. What’s more, of the women who say their current salary is holding them back, 35% say it’s keeping them from being able to pay for necessities. These trends are reflected among non-white respondents* too, with 66% reporting their current salary is holding them back from things like paying off debt, buying a house and building an emergency savings fund. Additionally, more than a quarter of non-white respondents say their current salary is holding them back from paying for necessities. 

*Non-white refers to all respondents who do not self identify as “white”

Try asking for a raise, they said. 

Asking for a raise can be daunting, which is why most people don’t do it. According to the study, 54% of American workers have never asked for a raise. That could be because they don’t feel comfortable doing so. This is especially true for women, 31% of which say they don’t feel comfortable asking for a raise, compared to 23% of men. That could be because fewer women have asked for a pay increase and, of those who have, nearly one-in-five women were not approved. 

Of the women who are not comfortable asking for a raise, 44% fear rejection when asking for a raise (44%), while others simply don’t want to create tension at work (42%), which holds them back from asking for an increase in pay – even when it’s well deserved. 

Pssst. Did you know so-and-so is making more than you? 

For a long time, talking about compensation was considered taboo. However, when companies aren’t transparent about how their employees are paid, it’s not uncommon for employees to talk. This can lay bare some of the pay discrepancies that exist within an organization. 

According to the study, 49% of American workers have found out that a colleague in a similar role made more money than them. Again, this was more common among women, more than half of which said they’ve found out that someone in a similar position earned more than them, compared to 46% of men. 

When asked what factors may have contributed to a colleague making more money, a quarter of women who made this discovery said they think gender played a role, while just 12% of men said gender was a contributing factor. When asked the same question, 26% of non-white respondents said race was a contributing factor, with 35% of black respondents and 24% of hispanic respondents saying race was a contributing factor. That’s compared to just 8% of white respondents. 

Such pay discrepancies could push some employees over the edge. According to the study, 35% of working respondents said they would leave their job if they were paid less than someone in a similar position at their company.   

Pay equity or bust. 

To close the gender pay gap, the time for pay equity is now – and employees expect it. According to the study, 71% of Americans say it’s important for their employer to prioritize pay equity, including 75% of women and 66% of men. 

Pay equity is a priority for employees, yet many are skeptical about employers’ ability to close the gap. In fact, 15% of respondents say they don’t believe the gender pay gap will improve over the next 10 years, with women being the most skeptical – 19% compared to 10% of men.


“​​Inflation and compensation are not as closely linked as one would think. However, the impact of inflation on consumers’ finances emphasizes the pay inequities that exist within the American workforce,” said Colleen McCreary, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “While pay equity is something every company should be thinking about, there are some things employees can do to advocate for themselves. Start by doing your research to understand what you should be making. From there, compile a list of your recent professional accomplishments to demonstrate ways you’ve gone above and beyond in your job. Then, get ready to negotiate. Know exactly what you’re asking for and what you’re willing to compromise on. At the end of the day, you’re your best advocate and you have more power than you realize.” 


On behalf of Credit Karma, Qualtrics conducted a nationally representative online survey in February 2022 of 2,018 Americans, aged 18 and above, to gauge how pay equity impacts consumers’ finances, especially amid rising inflation. The study also works to uncover consumer sentiment around pay equality and what reasons are holding workers back from making what they deserve.