Typical USA 2020 software salary:
- ~$11,000 goes to medical insurance (Employer pays same amount)
(Depending upon insurance level and medical conditions, this can easily be doubled for total out of pocket cost for the employee.)
- 18% goes to taxes (includes funding social security and Medicare)
- 4 to 7 % goes to retirement to meet employer matching. (This isn't counted as compulsory, but in order to have a decent standard of living in the USA after retirement, it is compulsory.)
While the taxes look lower than other countries, you have to subtract out the medical vs countries with socialized medicine. This represents an additional tax burden (especially since the USA taxes are often subsidizing healthcare research and administration), that puts the USA citizen in line with counterparts in other countries with socialized medicine.
The "burdened" cost of a USA employee also makes outsourcing look more attractive. USA businessmen have realized that American Exceptionalism is a myth, and they can get just as good engineers outside the country. (This doesn't just apply to USA; I see it in many European companies as well.)
And then comes the gig economy and COVID-19...
The next trend in USA engineer hiring will probably be temporary 1099 engineers at lower rates of pay and no "burdened" costs.
A low cost 1099 engineer will truly be lower cost than an out of the country low cost engineer. The new engineer can also be enslaved to college debt by such programs as Mitch Daniels' proposed "Back A Boiler" or some state's payday lien laws. That'll keep them subjugated until they're old enough to engender higher medical debts to further the need to remain under wage slavery.
It's time for engineers to stop being conservative and look to unionize and/or join cooperatives.
If you think startup culture is a foil against this, think again. Any startup that aims for capital accumulation only feeds into this system. If it becomes an unlikely success, only a few will get the rewards.
If anything, startup culture teaches one how to work for hope over salary, and passes on that value to it's future wage slaves. The first engineering job I had was at a successful startup. All of the managers were part of the initial start, and all reminisced of working long hours.
It's one thing to strive and fail together, as happens in equal participation startups and fully shared cooperatives, but in the corporate world, the failure is mostly felt by the wage slaves. Too often a golden parachute appears for the leadership.
The path to independence from wage slavery is much harder in countries where the cost of failure is too high. The wage slave in the USA faces bankruptcy and starvation upon loss of income.