Nearly half of American workers don’t believe they’re paid fairly as wage gap persists

  • Over half of American workers do not feel like their current pay is adequate to cover the cost of inflation (55%) 
  • Nearly half of American workers do not believe they are paid fairly at work (45%), women more so than men 
  • 29% of working women believe gender is a leading factor contributing to a colleague making more money in a similar role

March 14 represents how far into the year women would need to work in order to earn the same amount of money as men in 2022. That’s because women are still paid less than their male counterparts and stand to lose up to $1 million dollars throughout their career as a result of the pay gap. In fact, last year women earned an average of 82 cents for every dollar paid to a white man. These results aren’t far off from where the pay gap stood 20 years ago when women earned roughly 80% of what men earned. Now, in 2023, employees are continuing to feel the effects of pay inequities that can persist throughout their career.

According to a study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma, nearly half of American workers do not believe they are paid fairly at work (45%), up 15% from last year.  

Talking about your salary is a protected right 

While older generations may think discussing salary is taboo, Gen Z, who gets most of their information online and through social media, is shifting this narrative. Several trends have emerged on social media to highlight pay inequities, including influencers taking to their respective platforms to encourage young professionals to talk about their salaries to help identify wage gaps and promote salary transparency. This is important when you consider how many people have experienced pay discrepancies at work. According to the survey, nearly half of Americans have found out someone in a similar role at their company earns more money than them (49%).

Many American workers believe pay inequality has to do with who you know, not what you know. When asked what factors may contribute to a colleague making more money, many rate a person’s relationship with the leadership team as the leading factor (40%). Other factors include years of experience (33%) and length of time in a role/at the company (31%). For women, however, gender is a suspected factor. According to the study, 29% of female workers believe gender plays a role in why their colleague makes more money in a similar role, compared to just 17% of men. 

Inflation is making matters worse

Salary increases have not kept pace with inflation, however consumers may be faring better now than they were in 2022. According to the study, over half of American workers do not feel their pay is adequate enough to cover the cost of inflation (55%), compared to 66% from last year’s study. Women seem to be hit hardest by inflation with 61% of women reporting their pay is inadequate, compared to 50% of men.  

Consequently, 51% of Americans say their current salary, coupled with inflation, holds them back from reaching their financial goals. Among those, 21% say their current pay makes it difficult for them to afford necessities such as utilities, groceries and rent (21%).  

Women in this position say they struggle with saving money (60%), traveling or taking a vacation (41%) and building an emergency savings fund (37%) while men struggle to save money (55%), travel or take a vacation (41%) and pay off debt (40%).

“We still have a long way to go to close the gender pay gap,” said Courtney Alev, Consumer Financial Advocate at Credit Karma. “And, while the responsibility doesn’t fall on any one individual, there are things we can do now to advocate for ourselves and negotiate equitable pay to set us up for the future. To start, do your research and know what your role is worth. This can be done through desk research, including online forums, salary comparison websites, and networking with other people in similar roles. Plus with the increasing popularity of pay transparency laws, more and more companies are including pay ranges within jobs postings. At the end of the day, the more informed you are about compensation, the more confident you’ll be when it comes time to negotiate your pay. If your employer is unable to increase your salary at the moment, see if they are open to other ways you can be compensated – things like additional paid time off, a more flexible work schedule, or even a one-time bonus. Come prepared with examples of how your recent work has helped the company achieve its goals and make the case for why you’re asking for more.”


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma between February 22, 2023 and February 27, 2023 among 1,008 adults ages 18 and older.