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Only half of Long Islanders think their pay is fair, benefits good

How LI workers differ from the nation.

How LI workers differ from the nation. Credit: iStock

Think your paycheck is too small and company meetings are too long?

You’re not alone.

Long Island workers are less satisfied by what’s in their paychecks and less tolerant of meetings than workers nationwide, according to a new survey of more than 24,000 workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Barely half of Long Island respondents (51.3 percent) had a positive view of whether their pay is “fair” for the work they do compared to almost two-thirds (63.3 percent) nationwide who think they’re fairly compensated.

The survey revealed a similar — but less pronounced — gap concerning job benefits.

About 52 percent of Long Island workers said they have a “good benefits package” compared to others in their industry. That’s more than 7 percentage points lower than workers surveyed nationwide.

See all of the data on Long Island workers and their national counterparts here.

Newsday’s Top Workplaces partner, Energage, based in Exton, Pennsylvania, surveyed 116 Long Island companies with 24,069 respondents. Nationwide, 6,566 companies were surveyed since mid-July 2017, with about 1.3 million respondents.

Surveys were conducted in markets where Energage partnered with media outlets and did not employ sampling techniques designed to approximate the responses from all the workers in a particular market.

David Prottas, a professor of management at Adelphi University, said it is understandable that Long Islanders might chafe at their pay and benefits.

“Long Island is a very high-cost-living location,” he said, and that can engender negative attitudes from workers.

“Somehow I should be getting more or I should be living better, and therefore I have a problem with how much I’m getting paid,” he said of workers’ feelings.

Prottas said workers in other high-cost areas, such as parts of California, may have the same reaction.

At the same time, he said, Long Island employers may face a quandary as they grapple with rivals in lower-cost regions.

“I can’t compete if I have to pay my workers” at the level required to equal the standard of living workers have in lower-cost regions, he said.

Long Island workers also voiced more frustration than the national averages about company meetings and openness to different points of view and new ideas.

While 58.4 percent of Long Island workers who responded to the poll said company meetings “make good use of my time,” that was 5 percentage points lower than the national average.

Janet Lenaghan, vice dean of Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business and a professor of management, said meetings that extend an employee’s workday can have a cost, such as additional wages for a baby-sitter or elder-care provider who is asked to stay on duty. And that holds true especially in a high-cost region like Long Island.

“Time is a commodity,” she said. “When you’re fighting for every moment . . . . it can create another cost factor.”

Nassau and Suffolk counties had 2016 median household incomes of $105,870 and $92,933, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That was far higher than the nationwide median household income of $59,039.

At the same time, Long Island regularly ranks among the regions with the highest cost of living in the nation. For instance, the average annual 2016 property tax bill in Nassau County was $11,232, while Suffolk came in at $9,333, according to real estate information company Attom Data Solutions.

The nationwide analysis by Attom of 84 million homes in 586 counties with a population of at least 100,000 and at least 10,000 single family homes found the average annual property tax bill was $3,296.

The survey found 7.2 percent more Long Islanders disagreed with the statement “This company encourages different points of view” than employees nationwide, while 7 percent more workers on Long Island than the national average took issue with the idea that their company encourages new ideas.

- Ken Schachter

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