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Are gay men discriminated against by employers? Yes, according to a new study which appears in the Journal of Labor Research.

The study, co-authored by Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics at UNH Whittemore and Edinaldo Tebaldi of Bryant University in Rhode Island, contains an in-depth analysis of wage and labor data collected by the U.S. Census in March 2004. The dataset represents over 91,000 heterosexual and homosexual couples.

According to the authors, gay men who live together earn 23 percent less than married men, and 9 percent less than unmarried heterosexual men who live with a woman. Discrimination is most pronounced in management and blue-collar, male-dominated occupations such as building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; construction and extraction; and production.

The authors also found that lesbians are not discriminated against when compared with heterosexual women. They conclude that while negative attitudes toward lesbians could affect them, lesbians may benefit from the perception that they are more career-focused and less likely to leave the labor market to raise children than heterosexual women. According to their study, 18.1 percent of lesbians have children, compared with 49.4 percent of straight women.

Within the study, the authors suggest that employer disapproval of the gay lifestyle, fears about offending customers and concerning the transmission of HIV/AIDS may be affecting hiring and salary decisions. While these are certainly plausible theories, the data they examined does not truly provide any information regarding these potential causes, and more research is needed to justify their assertions.

I believe this study raises more questions than it answers, but the data revealed remains of interest, regardless of the whys.

I’ve long been disturbed that even in 2007, salary and position inequalities still exist between men and women, but until now, I hadn’t realized that homosexual men were affected as well. Gay couples already face unique retirement challenges, and compensation inequities only exacerbate the issue.

Gay men can earn 23 pct less than married men: study [Reuters UK]
New Research Finds Gay Men, But Not Lesbians, Are Discriminated Against in Some Jobs [UNH Media Relations]


MoneyWhen we last met, I was crowing about having paid off $52,050.74 in student loan principal.

I’m still mighty proud of that particular achievement, but this morning, an article from Ignites, an electronic publication available to corporate subscribers only, crossed my path and completely changed my perspective.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.00% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Ally Bank.

The article? Average Portfolio Manager Pay Tops $450K.

At $450,000-some a year, it seems I could have paid off my loans in about ten minutes, instead of ten years. Alas, it’s a long, hard road for those of us who are math-averse.

But maybe there’s a message in this for some of you out there, those of you who have enough of an interest in financial topics to regularly read blogs like this one.

In doing some research, I happened across a Boston-based job listing which shows the sheer earning potential of this type of career. A full-time position requiring a Ph.D in Math or Physics and 7 to 10 years of relevant work experience, it offers $450-600K in total compensation. There are lots more such jobs out there, too, but this one openly lists its salary range. I’ll repost here so you can see what’s involved:

Leading Asset Management Firm in Boston seeks a Sr. Fixed Income Quantitative Analyst. On a daily basis the successful candidate will recommend specific relative value strategies to the PM. Additional responsibilities include: implementation and development of pricing and risk models for cash and derivative products, interaction with Currency and Structured Credit Products analysts and PM’s, and programming in C++ and/or VB. Requires a minimum of 7 years experience in F.I. as a Quantitative analyst on the buyside. Also requires a PhD in Math or Physics in addition to strong communication and leadership skills.

Now there’s a nice payback for a Ph.D! I’m amused because I recall my math-genius brother (someone had to get all the analytical skills in my family) dropping his Physics major in college because he felt there wasn’t much income potential with such a high-flown degree, and university jobs seemed scarce. He switched over to Computer Science, which seemed more lucrative. But I don’t know any CS majors earning over $450K unless they’ve founded their own companies. Sorry, big brother! He got his Masters from Stanford, too.

Those of you qualified for this position should not read beyond this point – you should be applying for the above position posthaste. For everyone else, I’ll give an overview of the Ignites article, since many of you won’t be able to read it directly.

In the article, Kevin Burke details the recent results of a CFA Institute study, finding that equity portfolio managers are the top earners among investment professionals, with an average salary of $456,000 a year. Polling more than 75,000 investment professionals worldwide, they received over 13,500 responses, and learned lots of juicy details about industry salaries.

A CFA news release from Thursday shares some of the facts:

In the U.S., the three highest compensated positions at all levels of experience are portfolio managers (equities) ($456,000), followed by investment bankers ($275,000) and then sell-side research analysts ($195,000). Buy-side research analysts (equity and fixed income) fall in the middle of the pack at all levels of experience.

The pattern for cash bonus is also affected by years of experience. There is little variability in median cash bonus for those with less than five years of experience. However, the gap widens at five to 10 years of experience. At all levels of experience, portfolio managers (equities) ($200,000) and investment bankers ($185,000) reported cash bonuses that are more than double that for most other occupations.

Not just is there a high potential payoff for choosing this career path, but after putting in your five years, the financial outlook keeps getting rosier. Granted, there’s likely some attrition here, with those who aren’t as qualified weeded out while those who are successful begin to see increased rewards and bonuses. After the ten-year mark, the average portfolio manager compensation grows to $499K.

A significant portion of the managers’ compensation comes from performance-based bonuses. Ninety percent of those surveyed were bonus-eligible, and indicated that, on average, bonuses comprise 25% of their overall package. Bonuses can be tied to individual, business unit, and/or firm performance. Some are a percentage of total assets.

The bonus component also means that companies aren’t stuck paying high salaries when the market’s down. So this certainly isn’t a rest-on-your-laurels type job, but there’s ample reward for a job well done.

Unsurprisingly, location also affects compensation, with the highest earners across all levels operating out of New York City, followed by other major metropolitan areas.

Who knew a Ph.D in Math or Physics could be so lucrative? It may be too late for my brother to become a portfolio manager, but perhaps, if you’re seeking a career change, it’s not too late for you.

Image credit: Yomanimus


Today, and every summer through 2009, the federal minimum wage will increase $0.70 an hour. For those working full time at the federal minim wage, the increase to $5.85 an hour will mean an extra $1,400 over the previous rate. This 14% raise is pretty significant, but it still keeps the minimum wage earner who provides for a family of three in poverty.

If minimum wage increases kept pace with inflation since 1970, the minimum wage today would be $8.77. If it tracked inflation since 1956, the wage would be $7.27.

Interestingly, the minimum wage would be $3.39 if 1938’s rate of $0.25 was adjusted for inflation.

Here in New Jersey, the state minimum wage is already $7.15. The state’s economy hasn’t collapsed yet and business owners seem to be getting by. All salaries in the state seem to be somewhat higher than most of the nation. Real estate prices and property taxes are higher, and insurance rates are higher, but gas prices are lower.

Higher minimum wage can be done. Businesses who claim they will have to let employees go or raise prices will do what they have to do to survive and compete, and most likely find a way to make it work without the threatened layoffs. The staggered increases will help these businesses, particularly when compared to an immediate full increase to $7.25.

But is a minimum wage hike just an empty gesture? If minimum wage earners are mostly suburban teenagers from families nowhere near poverty, then a minimum wage hike doesn’t help those struggling in poverty, who most likely work part time at a job a little bit higher than the minimum wage.

Well, it will help indirectly, because those close-to-minimum-wage jobs, like those Wal-Mart, will be buoyed by the wage hike.

The minimum wage hike is necessary but it’s probably not going be the biggest contributor to the mission of making poverty history.

Here’s some historical minimum wage data as well as an inflation calculator, which helped me come up with the adjusted minimum wage rates above.


Hewitt Associates is saying that companies are not planning above average base pay increases in 2008 thanks to rising health insurance costs. This is the same reason I’ve heard over and over again.

Average employees have nothing to look forward to in terms of raises, as perhaps they shouldn’t have. Even above average employees will likely have nothing but a modest increase in base pay. There’s often discussion about how today’s company workers do not remain loyal to their companies for years on end, compared to previous generations of workers who have company loyalty ingrained in their philosophy. But loyalty has to be earned, and corporations must act in a way that shows their employees are their most valuable assets.

Here are some options if you’re not expecting an above-average pay increase but are happy in your current position.

Show me the money!

Two options for changing the company’s behavior:

Negotiate a higher bonus. Companies are starting to prepare their budgets for 2008. If you are a star performer — or if you just finished working on a successful project that has benefited the company in some way — now is the time to schedule a meeting to remind your boss of your recent accomplishments. While salary is a fixed cost for a company, there may be more room for negotiating one-time expenses like bonuses.

Negotiate something else. Working from home one day a week may save wear-and-tear on your vehicle, money for gas and tolls or mass transportation, and time. If this is a possiblity for you, find out if your company will approve it. Perhaps more vacation time would be a negotiable point.

Three options for changing your own behavior (giving yourself a raise):

Make fun money. Don’t rely on a company to provide you with more money. Find a way to make some extra money with your favorite hobby or activity. If you like what you do at work, do some related consulting on the side (steering clear of relationships conflicting with a non-compete agreement you may have signed at one point).

Revisit (or create) your budget. There are two reasons to want more money from your job — to save more for the future or to pay for increased expenses. Cut back on unnecessary expenses — perhaps expanded digital cable with premium channels or super high speed internet. Deposit the saved money into savings automatically each month or use it for a necessary expense. If you’ve never created a budget before, give it a try. You may be able to locate “lost” money on a monthly basis.

Adjust your withholding. If you find that you, like many households, receive a tax refund from the government every April, perhaps you would benefit from adjusting your withholding to be able to keep that money as you earn it. This way you’re not giving an interest-free loan to the government, and you have use of your money for paying expenses or investing. Use this withholding calculator to determine your optimal exemption amounts.

Whether or not your employer pays you more, your expenses will go up year after year (if not controlled and reduced) for any reason other than inflation and the second law of thermodynamics. The difference has to come from somewhere, and hopefully the solution does not involve the depletion of savings or the use of credit.


Is Your Job on the Bottom 25 List?

by Luke Landes

If you’re reading this blog, the answer to the question in the title is, “Probably not.” Perhaps a better question is whether you can live on the mean incomes provided by the occupations on Forbes’ 25 Worst-Paying Jobs. As I said when commenting on the top 25 jobs, the “mean” calculation is often meaningless as […]

13 comments Read the full article →

How Much is Your Mom Worth?

by Luke Landes

Mother’s Day is approaching, which means you’re going to start hearing about a certain survey in noth the traditional and the “alternative” media. The paycheck comparison website,, creates a questionnaire each year to determine the value of the work a mother does for her family. By determining the ten most popular “jobs” a mom […]

8 comments Read the full article →

Secrets and Myths About Salary Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

by Luke Landes

Jeanne Sahadi over at CNN Money is spilling the beans again, and this time it’s about salary. Your managers know these precious pieces of info, but you might not. Armed with this knowledge, you could be better poised to tip the scale in your favor next time you negotiate. Here’s the summary. 1. Secret: Your […]

7 comments Read the full article →

Wall Street Salaries are Through the Roof!

by Luke Landes

There are no fancy introductions here. Getting right down to it, the average salary for Wall Street is $289,664, while the average for all of New York City is “only” $56,634. The Reuters report includes more money figures, but the only piece I find particularly interesting is the average bonus per person: $125,000. My bonus […]

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Don’t Get Ahead, Start Ahead

by Luke Landes

This is an interesting article from the New York Times. Research shows that your first job dictates how much your income will be your entire working career. The recent evidence shows quite clearly that in today’s economy starting at the bottom is a recipe for being underpaid for a long time to come. Graduates’ first […]

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Money Stats for Twentysomethings

by Luke Landes

A feature on MSN Money looks at finances of people in their twenties. The feature includes statistics such as median net worth, median income, percentage owning homes, etc. with which you can compare yourself if you happen to be in this particular demographic. At age 29, I was doing well compared to these averages, but […]

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