Good afternoon and greetings from London,
I have attended yesterday the amazing virtual MeasureCamp Cincinatti. Congrats to everybody involved, the organisers, the sponsors, the speakers and the other attendees. I am not an expert in tax or legal matters, just a Web Analytics practitioner who was looking for a job for 6 months in a UK job market showing very few signs of life. This has led me to do some basic research which I have compiled into the deck below and presented at MC Cincinatti yesterday:https://www.slideshare.net/AlbanGrme/the-us-vs-the-uk-web-analytics-job-slideshare/
I was working for Barclays Bank up until late December last year. My bold plan was to go contracting/freelancing and help organisations migrate from Adobe DTM to Tealium IQ or Adobe Launch. But earlier this year Brexit was finally voted by the Houses of Parliament, new tax legislation, called IR35, also nearly came into force. I will not explain what the rationale behind IR35 means but it has compelled many companies, most banks, in particular, to stop hiring contractors. When you work as an Adobe implementation expert, that is pretty bad news. Then the pandemic forced the government to postpone IR35 for one year but the recruitment of contractors has not really resumed. In fact, even the demand for permanent hires has been rather anaemic in the UK this year so far, except perhaps for junior web analysts. And then the pandemic happened. I have started a new role 2 weeks ago, as a remote senior technical web analyst, but I am also earning 33% less than at Barclays. To compensate for the salary haircut my employer has allowed me to work freelance on the side, providing that there are no conflicts of interest.
This state of affairs has led me to peek at the jobs section of the Measure Slack channel. I also follow a few people at recruitment agencies, one of which has at least one office on the East Coast of the US. I have seen a decent number of US-based jobs being listed, several of which I have applied for but the answer was always a variation of the following: "Yes, we are happy to consider remote workers but you would have to be based in the US". More recently, I have even seen remote jobs for candidates living in a list of specific states. I do not remember the exact list of states.
But even before this year, I have seen the salaries in the US being significantly higher than in the UK. If memory serves, the average salaries seemed to be roughly 50% higher than in the UK. My personal theory was that there was as a legal basis for that difference. Before GDPR, the US law permitted certain practices that had been banned in Europe since 1998 (Data Protection Act in the UK, Loi Informatique et Libertés in France, Datenschutzgesetz in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and many more). Basically, the European data protection laws restricted the business value you could extract from data. The same data had more value in the US and the data roles were paying more as a result, or so went my theory. But as GDPR should have levelled the playing field and reduced the salaries gap, it seems that the result could not be more different as the gap has increased. Correlation is not causation but this suggests that the legal basis of my theory was incorrect.
It seems that in the UK the only career progression option for a senior Web Analytics practitioner is to resign and try their luck at consulting and freelancing. Extremely few Head of Analytics in the UK have any Web Analytics experience. Instead, they tended to be ex-Business Analysts around 2010-2015, then the fashion moved to hire people with PhDs or Masters in STEM and that fashion is beginning to fade away, too. Neither hiring strategy seems to have delivered business value. But in the US, Web Analytics practitioners seem to have enjoyed robust career progression. I see some of my peers, albeit more illustrious and more deserving than me to be sure, becoming Senior Analytics Directors for example. So, we seem to witness in the UK a strong reluctance to keep the Web Analytics practitioners in the trenches whereas the US companies offer career advancement opportunities to many. It follows that the US roles should offer higher salaries when the UK salaries have remained flat for the past 10 years or even longer. The roles I have seen posted on both sides of the pond suggest that you could get 2 remote UK workers for the price of 1 in the UK.
To be sure there is more red tape involved by hiring in the UK than in the US. There may be other market forces at play that I am unaware of. The jobs I have seen were perhaps a tiny and biased sample. Is anybody seeing the same trends has what I saw? Are specific US-states offering tax and/or financial advantages that would encourage companies to hire from these states rather other ones, nevermind hiring in the UK? I am not looking for a job now, I am doing this mostly to help my network contacts in the UK who are less privileged than me. If it also helps your organisation fill some of its recruitment needs and helps me understand the US job market a little better than it would be a win-win for all involved.