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Research Roundup: SurveyingThe Employment Landscape

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
 With today’s post, ACLS Public Fellow (and CFM Futurist-in-Training) Dr. Nicole Ivy launches a new occasional feature on the blog: a roundup of recent research relevant to her work and (we hope) to yours.

As part of my wonderings about compensation—and my ongoing research on museums, labor, and the future of work–I’ve collected some resources that shed greater light on how we work, what we earn, and what we think about both. I’d love to hear what reports or survey tools YOU rely on to understand workforce trends! Here is a summary of some of the sources and recent data I have been mining:

  • The US Social Security Administration maintains the national average wage index, an adjusted measure of workers’ earnings used to compute future Social Security benefits. The Administration reports that roughly 50% of wage earners made less than $30,000 per year.
  • The Mellon Foundation’s groundbreaking report on diversity in U.S. art museums provides critical data on employment and diversity and inclusion. Among its many insights, the survey reveals that although women make up roughly 60% of art museum staff and boast strong numbers in leadership positions, the landscape is not so promising for historically underrepresented minorities. From the report: “Among museum curators, conservators, educators and leaders, only 4 percent are African American and 3 percent Hispanic.”
Infographic by UpWork
  • The Freelancers Union, in partnership with freelance job search platform Upwork, recently released the results of their 2nd annual “Freelancing in America” survey. They found that one in three Americans freelance, with some 60% of respondents saying that they work freelance primarily by choice. The study also notes that the bulk of freelancers who left more traditional job structures currently earn more than they did prior to freelancing. This has important resonance with the museum community, as museums in both the U.S. and the UK continue to employ freelancers and consultants. 
  • The Harvard Business Review recently profiled a survey of 71,000 respondents taken by compensation software firm Payscale. According to the firm’s Chief Product Officer Dave Smith, employees are frequently wrong about how their pay compares to the market rate. The study found that beliefs about one’s pay factor significantly in employees’ decisions to leave a company. 
From “Most People Have No Idea Whether They’re Paid Fairly”

  • Several reports now give a more granular survey of the gender wage gap in the U.S. The Pew Research Center has reported that, despite the persistence of workplace inequalities, the wage gap is notably narrower for young women.
  • But, as the Economic Policy Institute reports, while women have made significant gains in corporate positions, women still hold some 56% of low-wage jobs.The pay gap numbers are even more pronounced when aggregated by race, ethnicity and level of education, according to the American Association of University Women.
From “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Fall 2015)

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