After hearing a Florida firefighter admit to an NPR host that he would take half his salary to keep his job, I decided to conduct a survey to test how others saw pay cuts.
The results were surprising. In my very unscientific poll, 32 respondents overwhelmingly said that they would take a pay cut to keep a job. Eighty percent of the sample said that they would take a pay cut to keep their jobs, but many hedged their answer based on job satisfaction and the size of the cut. With a tough economy, though, many respondents felt that it wouldn’t make sense to opt for unemployment. This is an emotional issue for many people, and some of the words that captured their answers make up the word cloud above.
“In these tough economic times, finding a job is really difficult,” one respondent answered. “If I reject the pay cut, I am taking a risk of not being able to find a new job, which in the end, would make my salary lower than any pay cut would.”
Respondents were asked what the largest percent of their salary they were willing to part with was, and the bulk said that they wouldn’t accept a cut of more than ten percent. However, in the ‘Other’ category one respondent said that she would give up 75 percent of her salary, while many opted not to give a set number for fear of tempting fate. What became clear is that almost all of the respondents considered these cuts to be temporary, and expected a full return to their regular salary when their companies began growing again.
For some, it was a matter of keeping an income while they searched for a better paying job.
“I would rather take a pay cut and, if I need the money, be able to work while looking for another job, rather than be out of a job while not having guaranteed work.”
What was most surprising though is that people are more stubborn about giving up their benefits. The pie charts below show the contrast.
Although 2 out of 3 respondents would take a cut to their benefits, there is a wide gulf between that number and the 80 percent willing to take a cut in pay.