It’s gotten so much easier for job seekers to find out how much a potential job may pay.
Half of US job postings in August advertised at least some employer-provided salary information, according to a new report by the job board Indeed. That marked the highest share yet recorded by the firm. Overall, the share of postings with pay transparency has nearly tripled from its February 2020 level of 18%.
The increase is largely due to a host of pay transparency laws enacted over the past few years by states and the share of postings with pay data likely will rise with New York State’s disclosure law going into effect this month.
"Now that the share of postings advertising pay is passing the halfway point, it looks like salary transparency is here to stay," Cory Stahle, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, told Yahoo Finance.
"Given the near-tripling transparent postings in the last few years, it’s not looking very likely that we’ll return to the days of having pay in 15 to 20% of job listings, even in light of a cooling labor market."
By the end of this year, roughly one in four workers across the country will be covered by a state or local law that requires businesses to be transparent about their pay range.
New York state's pay-transparency law, which requires employers to disclose a salary range in job listings, takes effect on Sunday, while New York City's law has been in place since last year.
In preparation for the new law, many employers in New York state had already jumped on board. More than six in 10 (61%) of job postings in New York State featured some level of pay transparency in August, almost double from a year prior (31%), according to the Indeed data.
In California and Washington state, laws requiring employers to post salary ranges on all advertised job postings went into effect on Jan. 1. Similar pay disclosure laws are in place in Colorado, while Maryland and Rhode Island require salary information to be provided when an applicant requests it.
More than eight in 10 (81%) of listings in Colorado featured salary data, making it the most transparent state. Its law took effect in 2021 and was the first in the country to require employers to reveal the salary nitty gritty.
Other states with a lofty share of salary data listed on their job postings also have laws on the books, including California, where 70% of listings include pay details, and Washington state with 75%.
While salary transparency rates are rising overall, that growth is not occurring evenly across state lines and geographic regions. In general, employers in the West provide pay details in postings at the highest rate, while employers in the South are less likely to advertise salary upfront, according to the research.
And, for the most part, employers are not disclosing the pay information out of the goodness of their hearts. Pay transparency rates have grown the most in cities subject to pay disclosure laws.
Better bargaining power for job seekers
The upshot of having the new laws for job seekers is that knowing a salary range for a position can help job hunters catch a whiff of what a job is likely to pay and how far they can push in negotiating compensation.
And for many employers, posting those salaries, well, paid off.
"When it comes to pay transparency, SHRM research has found that 70% of organizations that list pay ranges in job postings say doing so has led to more people applying, while 66% said disclosing pay has increased the quality of applicants they’re seeing," Emily Dickens, chief of staff and head of public affairs at SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, told Yahoo Finance.
"Moreover, 65% of companies that list pay ranges said it makes them more competitive in attracting top talent."
One concern, though, is that now job openings have begun to decline, employers may opt to pull back on how much they reveal about their pay structure.
"It’s possible that employers may continue to advertise pay in postings, but reduce the precision of that information as recruiting intensity fades," Stahle said.
There are many reasons why employers resist posting detailed salary data. For example, knowing what a job pays elsewhere can make it more appealing for current employees to jump ship for higher pay. It can also give them the courage to request a raise based on the salaries posted by their employer for new hires in the same or similar position.
In fact, 36% of 1,300 HR professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said transparency laws caused more current employees to ask about receiving a pay raise.
As the need to hire eases, some of that might "already be happening," Stahle added. "Job postings containing pay information are less likely to advertise an exact salary or wage than they were a few years ago (only 22% mentioned precise pay this spring, down from 38% before the pandemic)," he said.
While there is much to be applauded for the open pay disclosure, the biggest flaw so far is laughably wide pay ranges, often covering more than a six-figure span.
"Indeed data shows that pay ranges have widened in areas with new pay transparency requirements since last year," Stahle said.
For example, the gap between the low and high end of salaries in San Jose increased to 25% from 17.5% in one year. A recent job posting for a software engineer at Google in San Jose pays a salary ranging from $157,000 to $235,000 plus bonus, equity, and benefits.
"People are shortchanging themselves if they look at just the salary number and not all the components that go into a compensation package," Dickens said. "Employers covered by the new law need to publish their salaries, but they remain free to also publish full compensation if it is in their interest to do so."
In general, though, salary ranges have widened most in mid-to-high paying sectors like pharmacy and medical information and have narrowed in lower-paying jobs like driving and food preparation and services, where finding and retaining workers is hardest right now, Stahle said.
"To some degree, this information, even when the range is wide, is going to help job seekers," Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, the employment search site, previously told Yahoo Finance. "It'll help them to focus on jobs that actually provide the pay that they want, rather than going down a rabbit hole, writing out a whole application, then finding that the job pays much less than they need."
Kerry Hannon is a Senior Reporter and Columnist at Yahoo Finance. She is a workplace futurist, a career and retirement strategist, and the author of 14 books, including "In Control at 50+: How to Succeed in The New World of Work" and "Never Too Old To Get Rich." Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.