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American workers want record wages to change jobs, NY Fed finds

New data from the New York Federal Reserve found that the reservation wage, which is the lowest wage acceptable for a worker to change jobs, hit a record high in February.

A new report from the New York Federal Reserve found that the lowest wage that American workers said they're willing to accept to take a new job reached a record high last month.

The so-called reservation wage was an average of $81,822 in March, a substantial increase from the $73,391 seen in the last report in November 2023, according to the New York Fed's regular Survey of Consumer Expectations. 

The New York Fed said the rise was most pronounced for men, respondents aged 45 and under and those with a household income above $60,000. 

It also found declining satisfaction with wage and non-wage compensation in March, which declined by 3.1 and 3.7 percentage points, respectively, while workers' satisfaction with promotion opportunities remained steady.

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New York Fed data tracking reservation wage demands has been on a steady upward trend amid the inflationary pressures and labor market tightness that continue to impact the economy.

Despite the higher wages sought by workers, the New York Fed found that employers were offering lower starting wages than they have in recent months, with the average offer at $73,668 in March compared to $79,160 last November.

Expectations around the likelihood that a current employer will match an outside job offer fell to 24.8%, its lowest level since July 2021.

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The proportion of individuals who reported searching for a job in the past four weeks rose to 25.1%, up from 23.1% in November 2023. That figure was the highest reading since March 2014 and the increase was primarily driven by men, respondents over age 45 and workers without a college degree.

The percentage of respondents who are searching for a new job and reported receiving one or more offers dipped slightly to 18.5% from 20.4% in November. Of the 18.5% figure, a little more than half, 9.4%, received one offer while 4.5% reported receiving two job offers.

US ECONOMY ADDS 303K JOBS IN MARCH, MUCH STRONGER THAN EXPECTED

The report also found that the average expected likelihood of working beyond age 62 declined to a new low of 45.8% in March, while the average expected likelihood of working past age 67 also fell to 31.2%.

Inflation has waned from the high of June 2022, when the consumer price index reached 9.1% year-over-year, having declined to 3.5% as of March 2024. 

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However, the minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting showed that policymakers are concerned that inflation has shown signs of accelerating again, which could undermine progress towards the Fed's 2% inflation target.

FOX Business' Megan Henney and Reuters contributed to this report.

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