HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pay transparency. It’s on the mind of United States workers, but little attention has been given to the subject by the media.

Looking at pay transparency ends up opening a rather large can of worms that shines the light on many other issues that are on the minds of U.S. workers.

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KHON2.com was able to catch up with Mike Buck, the Public Information Officer for Hawaiʻi’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. But first, let’s take a look at a new study that cracks open that metaphorical can.

What U.S. workers say they want

While prices continue to rise due to inflationary tactics by the United Stated Federal Reserve, workers in the United States are indicating that their salaries are not keeping pace.

According to a new study, approximately 78% of U.S. workers — this includes Hawaiʻi’s labor force — said that an adequate salary is the most important aspect of any job. However, the study also found that only 51% of U.S. workers are earning a larger salary than in 2022.

Meanwhile, less than half (43%) of U.S. workers feel that their jobs are secure with only about quarter (26%) feeling that their employer’s financial prospects are unstable.

This has made many U.S. workers more motivated to seek out other employment opportunities. Hence, well over half (57%) of workers are either actively seeking other employment or intend to do so in the near future.

As workers become more and more unsatisfied, there are 41% who said they would prefer to start fresh with a new company rather be advanced in their current employment situation and 33% who said they’d be happy with some sort of promotion within their current company.

Their preferences breakdown like this:

  • 47% cite salary as a motivating factor.
  • 32% want to find advancement opportunities.
  • 28% seek remote-friendly work or a flexible schedule.

In 2023, one of the biggest topics amongst workers is the newly discovered option of working from home. This has led the workforce to be split on how they interpret an ideal in-person work schedule.

Hence, the study shows that 34% of workers prefer to be fully in-person for a full-time work schedule while 36% want to work fully remotely and 30% seek a hybrid balance between the two options.

This means workers are split into thirds with the dominating preference being a fully remote work schedule leading to more than a quarter (28%) of workers indicating that if an ideal job came along but doesn’t have their ideal in-person/remote ratio, they will not take that work.

This leads us to salary transparency. Even though transparency has the potential to increase workers’ wages across the board, there is a disparity between what people are willing share and what they want.

The study shows that while more than half (55%) of workers want transparency, there are only 13% who would be comfortable with sharing information on their salary with co-workers. Interestingly, only 55% said they were comfortable sharing a spouse.

What is happening on the ground in Hawaiʻi

Mike Buck said that Hawaiʻi is a bit different from the continent and how workers are feeling there. This is what he has seen.

For Hawaiʻi workers, job security is the most important thing for us. As many people are forced to leave Hawaiʻi due to lack of employment opportunities, employment security weighs heavy on our workforce.

Buck also said that the strikes that happening on the continent are having ripple effects throughout Hawaiʻi. From the writers’ and actors’ strikes to the autoworkers’ strikes, these impact Hawaiʻi’s workforce making lots of folks in the media production and auto industry feel insecure about their future.

According to Buck, thousands have left Hawaiʻi for better opportunities, leaving our workforce without their talents.

Buck said he has heard horror stories from folks who are worried about employment and prospects of needing unemployment assistance. He said their labor relations teams deal with helping hundreds of people every day with their issues and concerns.

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He believes that soft talk on our economic situations and prospects do nothing to food into the mouths of local families and that while not all issues can be solved overnight, his team is working on actionable solutions for Hawaiʻi’s workers.