Why won't employers offer me a fair salary?

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(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,

Will the unfairness in salary range among employees ever end? I don't think so because there are always loops that these employers can jump through to justify why you are paid such meager wages. I have a degree and experience, but have been laid off. I worked hard for my degree. So now I am looking for a job and no one wants to pay enough.

The requirements they are asking for are not obtained from the schools for free -- we have to pay for them. How can an individual pay back student loans and live off of $15/hr and $17/hr? And employers are only doing that because they know people are desperate and need to feed their families -- not keep a roof over their heads -- but just feed them, since no one can pay a mortgage along with other things with that compensation.

I told one interviewer who was offering me a job for $17/hr that I won't be able to live on that. I will lose my home, and I have no where to go but at a shelter. The recruiter then fixed her mouth and asked me how am I living on unemployment. In other words, if I can make it on the unemployment check, I can make on $17/hr. I had to give her some choice words and educate her a bit ( we know she won't be offering me any jobs in the future).

The work place and the whole job search thing has turned into a circus, with employers exploiting the employees by not paying them what they are worth. You can't say that you won't get your degree and just look for menial job, no, these employees want an individual to have a degree to file documents or to answer the phone for $10/hr.

You see the government knows that NO ONE can survive on the little handout they call unemployment, therefore they offer programs to assist with your mortgage and utilities, and the criteria for these programs is that you must be on unemployment. The minute you get a job, all the assistance stops. Therefore, one has to get a job that will allow them to keep their head above water.

What is this society coming to? it's oppression right around -- in the workplace, and even when you're trying to get a job. Is there any one who can look into this?

There's no need to look into it. It's a matter of supply and demand. Businesses know that they can get a qualified worker to do the job for $17 an hour, so shy should they offer a penny more?

When you are shoe shopping, if two stores carried the shoe you wanted and one store was asking $17 for the shoes and the other was asking $35, we'd say you were a fool if you paid $35. Likewise, an employer is a fool for paying $35 an hour when he can get someone to do the job for $17. 

I understand that you have student loans and a mortgage and other expenses. Welcome to adulthood. But it's not the employer's obligation to pay your mortgage. Salaries are not determined by that. Imagine if your coworker got a big raise purely because he went out and bought a bigger house? You'd be livid.

Now we can argue all day about whether the government should be offering benefits that make it more desirable to take the benefits than it is to take a job. But that's the reality we live in. It's up to you what you want to do,but keep in mind that it's not just about the original salary offer. It's about setting yourself up for the rest of your life.

It's easier to find a job when you have a job. And by taking a job, even one that doesn't pay very well, you're making it possible to get a better job later on. The longer you stay unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job.

The job market will not get better tomorrow. It's not as if you hold out, there will be lots of $75,000 a year jobs waiting for you next week. I hope the market gets better. But even if it does, it will probably happen slowly and gradually. Which means that you may find yourself exhausting government benefits and still not finding a higher paying job.

Only those with jobs get promoted. I realize that statement sounds stupid. But if you want to climb up the corporate ladder you need to get on it. At the bottom. 

We cannot expect paths to always go up. It would be awesome if you could always count on making more money today than you did yesterday. And that your house tomorrow is fancier or bigger or in a better neighborhood than your house today. But that's not real life. There are ups and downs. You may have to realize that the house you could afford last year is not the same one you'll be able to afford next year.

Many businesses are scraping by as well. Sometimes we have this picture of all business owners being like the CEOs we see on television. Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer's salary is not normal, even for big businesses. For small businesses, there's nothing close. The average salary for a small business owner? In their first year of business, they can expect to make between $34,392 and $75,076 -- not a lot of wiggle room to increase employee salaries.

It's not a conspiracy against workers. It's the reality of a bad market with lots of unemployed people. Hopefully it will get better.

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your question to EvilHRLady@gmail.com.