In brief: With the economic downturn, the threat of AI taking jobs, and mass layoffs by tech companies, one might imagine that people would be less picky when it comes to accepting positions. However, according to a new survey, the lowest salary the average worker says they will accept when starting a new job is now almost $80,000, a record high.

The New York Fed's SCE Labor Market Survey, which asked 1,000 people for details about their current or most recent jobs, found that the average reservation wage – the lowest wage respondents would be willing to accept for a new job – had reached an all-time high of $78,645. That's up from $72,873 a year earlier. It was also discovered that the yearly increase was most pronounced for respondents over age 45.

Participants may claim to only accept jobs with a near-$80,000 salary, but the average full-time offer wage received in the past four months was $69,475. While that's significantly less than what people want, it marked a 14% increase from $60,764 in July 2022.

Insider notes that the Consumer Price Index climbed by 3.2% between July 2022 and July 2023, meaning salaries for new starters outpaced inflation.

While satisfaction with wages, non-wage benefits, and promotion opportunities did increase year-on-year by 3%, 1.7%, and 4%, respectively, the average expected likelihood of becoming unemployed increased to 3%, the highest reading since March 2020. Moreover, the expected likelihood of receiving at least one job offer in the next four months declined to 18.7% from 21.1% in July 2022.

Another section of the survey notes that the number of people who have been searching for a new job over the last few weeks is down more than 5% YoY to 19.4%, a change that was most pronounced in people younger than 45.

Many workers might be avoiding looking for new jobs as they are busy holding onto their current employment. AI is predicted to impact 300 million jobs worldwide, and 40% of the global workforce may have to learn new skills over the next three years due to AI implementation.