What are you worth?

I came across a really interesting post on the TradeMe message boards not long ago on the subject of pay raises. This person was a qualified tradesperson on $20/hr, and had just had a request for a raise rejected. Not having had a pay rise for years, he was worse off in real terms because of inflation. His company also contracted him out on close to $90/hr – sounds about right, that’s what T’s employer used to do.

It turned into a pretty heated debate, with commenters telling him he was grossly underpaid and no qualified professional should be on a rate less than $50, and others railing against greedy employers failing to keep workers up with the cost of living.

$50 an HOUR!!! My god, that is a LOT of moolah. That’s $2000 pretax a week or $104,000 a year. I’m right in the average range for an entry-level journalism grad ($30-35,000), and even if I one day work up to a more senior role in subbing or editing I don’t imagine I’d be breaking the six-figure mark. It’s not a particularly lucrative field – maybe I should transition into PR one day? – but to be honest, I have trouble believing my work would ever be worth $50 per hour.

I do, however, believe everyone is entitled to at least a raise to keep up with inflation. In my entire life (marked by a series of short, casual and part time jobs to date) I received ONE payrise, at the worst waitressing stint I ever did. It was a 50c increase. I was overjoyed.

Hard work deserves recognition and raises should be based on merit. But we shouldn’t have to work doubly hard to gain a big enough raise every year just to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living.

Now that I’m a newly graduated, FT employee – may the situation continue, touch wood – I should have performance reviews and all that jazz along with everyone else. Wages and salaries were frozen last year, but with things looking up, perhaps they’ll see fit to melt the ice a little bit.

Because otherwise, I’ll have been here 2.5 years, albeit parttime, without one. If I was on the collective contract I would have had two small raises by now. A lot of people at my workplace are represented by the union, but when I moved from evening to daytime hours after a year I switched to an individual agreement as the rate was higher. (For all those who do weekends and shifts, though, the union has a great thing going on with several different allowances and extra payments. It’s all a tad complicated – but at least they get compensation for their odd hours. I think Sundays garner double the pay!)

What about you – what do you consider a “professional” rate for your industry? Do you think employees deserve cost-of-living raises?

6 thoughts on “What are you worth?

  • Reply The Lost Goat November 27, 2009 at 03:06

    I started to comment on this here, but then it turned into an 11 paragraph rant, so I took it over to my own blog. I appreciate your perspective on the matter giving me the energy to write down what I think.

  • Reply me in millions November 27, 2009 at 06:32

    I make $43,500 a year and I’m considered very well paid in my industry. I started at $37,000 a little less than 4 years ago. I think cost of living raises are important, but there were no raises last year due to the economy. I’m not going to get rich doing this, but I’m having fun right now so it’s worth it to me.

  • Reply Jessie November 27, 2009 at 08:30

    I think that cost of living raises are important – but last year, the cost of living (in Canada anyways) didn’t actually go up. I make $47,000/annually and expect that I’ll get raises between 3-5% each year unless my role significantly changes.

    With regards to being paid $20/hr and being charged out at $90/hour (I work for a consulting company, but I’m non-chargeable) – it’s ridiculous to think that the company is pulling a $70/hr profit!!! There’s things to consider like paying the non chargeable staff (think accounting, HR, marketing etc), paying for equipment, travel, benefits, administering those benefits. The company is also paying rent on the building the operating in, among other costs that I haven’t listed.

    There’s also often clients that don’t pay…so they have to charge enough to cover that.

  • Reply Amber from Girl with the Red Hair November 27, 2009 at 12:54

    As I briefly mentioned on my blog the other day I was offered a full-time job after I graduate at the PR firm I am working at now.

    We haven’t hammered out all the details yet, but if, when we do, I am not given a raise (of at least $3 an hour, hopefully more) I will not be able to keep the job because it just won’t be a liveable wage for me.

    I think that wage should depend on A LOT of things; how long you’ve been at that company, how much experience you have other places, how much education/skills you have etc. but I also don’t think one raise a year is unreasonable!

  • Reply The Financial Blogger » Blog Archive » Carnival of Money Stories – My Financial Dreams’ Edition November 30, 2009 at 22:58

    […] presents What are you worth? posted at Musings of an Abstract […]

  • Reply How I’m dealing with the rising cost of necessities | NZ Muse November 5, 2012 at 16:03

    […] The cost of living can only ever really go one way (and unfortunately cost of living raises don’t always follow). […]

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