Almost half of Americans aren’t happy with their paychecks

In a tight labor market and booming economy, it would seem logical that valued workers could demand satisfying wages. But a new poll suggests that’s not the case.

A collaboration between SurveyMonkey Audience and Quartz at Work found that 49% of Americans aren’t “satisfied with their earnings.” Only 46% of women report being pleased with their incomes, versus 56% of men.

This financial angst may be part of why workers are choosing to explore other job openings, especially when it appears that, at least in neighboring countries, leaving a company can result in a “disloyalty bonus” of 4%.

This dissatisfaction exists as part of a wider system that’s devaluing worker contribution. According to The New York Times, in 2000, when the American economy was doing well, “wages and salaries across the entire workforce accounted for roughly 66%” of the national income, while corporations’ profits comprised only 8.3%. But last year, those numbers changed significantly, despite a healthy economy. Corporate profits were more than 13% of the nation’s income, and wages and salaries were now only 62%.

“There is plenty of evidence that workers have yet to receive their fair share of this most recent expansion — or even the previous one,” according to The Times.

It may then seem counterintuitive that 72% of Americans agreed, “employers do their best to pay employees well,” according to the Quartz at Work and SurveyMonkey poll. Especially when workers feel their paychecks are not what they should be, why do they still choose to believe the best of the corporate world?

Quartz’s reporter Lila MacLellan had theories on why this disconnect exists — she says progressives may not be informed on economics, Americans may be placing greater faith in their own bosses than in other businesses, or people may have just drunk the Kool-Aid that financial bigwigs have served them.

Whatever the reason, the SurveyMonkey and Quartz at Work numbers indicate an incongruence between Americans’ perceptions and national data and reports.

“Corporate profits have rarely swept up a bigger share of the nation’s wealth,” the Times writes,  “and workers have rarely shared a smaller one.”