Many folks are afraid to ask for more, and women may be even more reluctant to ask than men.

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Workers are now in a position to negotiate for more money because of a tight labor market, but most people aren’t, a new survey says — and as a result, they likely are earning less.


Many folks are afraid to ask for more, and women may be even more reluctant to ask than men.

“People tend to think it’s hard to do,” Trisha Plovie, regional vice president of human resource consulting firm Robert Half in Troy, said Friday. “It can be uncomfortable to negotiate in an interview situation and some people may be fearful that by negotiating, the company may decide not to make them an offer.”

But, Plovie said, right now, the labor market is tight, which means that employees have the leverage to find jobs, earn more and it’s less likely that they will be passed over — or told no — than it was just a few years ago.

“Candidates are really in the driver’s seat,” Plovie said.

In December, the latest month the data is available, the national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent.

The survey by Robert Half asked 2,700 people whether they negotiated their salary and broke down the results into 27 metro areas. The top metro area, as you might expect for negotiations, was New York with 55 percent of professionals negotiating their salary; the city at the bottom was Indianapolis at 24 percent.

The overall survey results also suggested two reasons why some negotiated and others did not may be related to gender and age.

Of professionals who did negotiate for more money, 46 percent of them were men, compared with 34 percent of women; and younger workers, the so-called millennial generation who are between 18 and 34, were more likely to negotiate than older generations of workers.

Plovie said that younger workers, especially those graduating college, are entering “super hot employment markets.” They likely feel confident because they are out of school and may be working with a recruiter who can help them negotiate — or negotiate for them.

Chanel Hampton, the founder and president of Strategic Community Partners in Detroit, unlike their parents or grandparents, millennials don’t plan or expect to stay at one company their whole careers so they want to get as much pay as early as they can.

“For many people, it boils down to confidence,” Hampton said. “A lot of people don’t realize negotiating is an option.”

Ursula Adams — a leadership consultant and owner of the SheHive, a women’s development center in Ferndale, Michigan — said that in more than 25 years of working in human resources at the United Way and Compuware, she never negotiated her salary and now regrets it.

“I think how much more I could have done,” she said. “The work I did was worth more.”

She said was afraid to ask and afraid of the consequences if she did.

“There was always the idea that this is as good as it gets, and how dare I ask for more money,” she said. “During the downturn and seeing layoff after layoff, you feel lucky to have a job. Women are taught its impolite to ask and that they have to do the job before they can ask for a title or raise.”

Men, she said, tend to ask based on their potential.

Her advice: “Be OK with the uncomfortable conversation and be OK with what could potentially be an uncomfortable result. It’s much easier now that you can ask what you are worth because of the job market. There are other jobs to be had and its easier to start your own thing now.”

Last year, another survey by Robert Half looked at worker confidence levels in talking about money with their employers: 54 percent of those surveyed were comfortable negotiating pay in a new job, up 4 percent from 2016; and 49 percent felt confident asking for a raise in their current role, up 3 percent from the year before.

Among other findings:

—Thirty-six percent of workers said they’d rather clean house than ask for a raise.

—Thirty-two percent of workers never checked their salary against the industry average.

—Fourteen percent of workers said they’d look for another job rather than ask for more money.

—Of workers who planned to ask for a raise, 24 percent said they needed more money.

“You’re not going to get more if you don’t ask,” Adams said. “If you ask and don’t get it, at least you know where you stand in the organization.”