Last week, someone on Reddit posed an always interesting question to New Yorkers: What do you do and how much is your salary? And because there’s nothing New Yorkers like to do more than talk about money—whether it’s our salaries or how much we pay for rent or where to find the cheapest tacos—hundreds of people answered the initial query, revealing a staggering range of incomes and professions. The respondents were everyone from a “stay-at-home dad, occasional writer” who makes “less than $10,000” per year to an “e-book maker at one of the Big Six” who pulls in “$34k” to a “banking accountant—180K plus fully paid for benefits and 401k match plus defined contribution pension. plus 32 days vacation and 8 holidays. (twist: we were cited by the EU and forced out of business and may all get fired on July 14).” Which, that’s quite a twist!
This particular Reddit thread is notable for a few reasons, but perhaps the most interesting is how big the difference is in New York salaries for what is, on the surface, the exact same job. While some of this surely has to do with seniority, much of it has to do with the inherent disparity in working for different companies, or working freelance as opposed to having a stable, salaried position. Some of the most glaring differences in wages within the same job include positions in the non-profit sector (salaries reported on Reddit range from $19,000 for a “Development Assistant at a nonprofit” to $35,000 for a “Grant writer at a nonprofit” to $47,000 at a “anti-hunger nonprofit”) and also positions in the media world (from the aforementioned $10,000/year “occasional writer” to someone making $42,000 as a “journalist/editor” to a fellow “journalist” making $67,000 to a “writer in advertising” making $200,000).
Skimming through the Reddit thread was compelling because it quickly became clearer than ever (and it was already pretty goddamn clear) that a person’s income is only part of his or her financial story. Proving (as much as Reddit can ever “prove” anything) that people’s salaries are only a part of their whole financial stories, some commenters clarified whether or not their jobs provided them with free health insurance, or complimentary Metrocards, or even discounted apartments because they worked for a real estate company. Some people claimed to be struggling while making over $100,000/year (making the thread more than a little reminiscent of the infamous post on parenting website Urbanbaby.com wherein a NYC mother claimed to be “poor” while pulling in $700,000/year—when the revolution comes, she’d better be first against the wall) but most just presented their salaries without much comment. And while the variables involved make it impossible to assess a person’s quality of life based solely on their salary—for example, $100,000 goes a much longer way if you’re living with a roommate (romantic or otherwise) than it would if you were on your own, or, like, married with children aka the biggest money pit ever—it was yet another eye-opening experience on the classic topic of income disparity in New York.