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Forget $15 an hour – more workers are now searching for $20-an-hour jobs

Analyzing consumer spending trends
Analyzing consumer spending trends amid high inflation 02:41

When it comes to wage expectations, $20 is the new $15. 

A tight labor market and high inflation are causing jobs seekers to look for higher wages, search data show. The share of workers searching for open positions with pay of at least $20 an hour soared 36% in August compared to the same period a year earlier, overtaking the number of searches for $15 an hour jobs, according to search data from the Indeed Hiring Lab

Meanwhile, over the same period, queries for openings offering $15 per hour dropped 57%. 

Searches for jobs paying at least $20 first overtook those for $15 per hour in April 2021.

Some job seekers have been even more bold, scouring Indeed's job board for jobs that pay $25 an hour. In mid-August, these searches were up 122% compared to one year earlier. By mid-June, they had outstripped the number of searches for $15 an hour jobs. 

Hefty wage gains for workers, combined with the highest levels of inflation in 40 years are likely driving workers' desire for bigger paychecks.

"This started happening around the time we saw a lot of nominal wage growth as well as when inflation started to take off," Indeed Hiring Lab labor economist AnnElizabeth Konkel told CBS MoneyWatch. 

The shift in search trends is a reflection of two main factors, according to Konkel. 

"On the one hand, there is the pull factor of job seekers being curious. They might hear of a friend of family member getting a higher wage and they might wonder what else is out there," she said. 

High inflation is also part of the equation. "Workers are looking at their paychecks and they're not going as far as they used to in the past. Some of the shift in search behavior may be more out of necessity than curiosity," she said. 

Hourly workers saw wage growth of nearly 6% over the twelve months ending in July 2022, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows. 

But consumer costs have shot up faster — and are eating into workers' paychecks. Costs are rising so fast that many workers report having to take on second jobs or so-called side hustles just to keep pace with inflation.

In July, the Consumer Price Index, a measure of the average change in consumer prices on a basket of goods, rose 8.5% compared to a year earlier.

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