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Salaries on the rise in U.S. plastics industry: SPE survey


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June 10, 2015 by Canadian Plastics

Optimism continues among employees in the U.S. plastics industry, as average base salaries in the U.S. grew 0.7% from 2013 to US$104,722 in calendar year 2014, and job confidence and growth expectations have remained high for both managers and non-managers, according to the latest Plastics Salary and Trends Survey conducted by Gros Executive Recruiters and the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).

The 2015 survey of 1,250 plastics professionals, which tracks earnings during the full calendar year 2014, showed a continuation of a five-year trend of confidence in both the plastics industry and individuals’ personal job security.

“In the 2014 survey, 75% of survey participants expected their employers to deliver a salary increase, with most expecting a raise of 1-3%,” said Dennis Gros, president of Gros Executive Recruiters. “The 2015 survey shows a slight increase in base salaries—so at least some employers gave raises. Total compensation, however, was down by about 2%.”

The reason for the decrease is that average cash compensation – which includes base salary plus incentives such as bonuses and commissions – fell by 2.2% from the year before. In 2014, participants reported US$122,301 total cash compensation, but the figure in the 2015 survey was US$119,576.

Nevertheless, optimism still prevails, Gros said. “An overwhelming 85% of managers surveyed said they expect compensations to rise for calendar year 2015, as did 77.2% of employees,” he said.

Along with optimism about salaries, plastics employees are confident of their job security. 76.9% of this year’s respondents said they were “very” confident that their jobs would exist in 12 months, and another 19.0% were “somewhat” confident. This positive perception of job stability began in 2010, following the 2008 recession.

Job confidence expands into job loyalty and high morale, Gros said. “Only about 7% described their job situation as ‘unhappy,’” he said. “Managers can expect challenges in finding new employees, because only 16% expected to be active in looking for a new job. For managers this means ‘Keep the Ones You’ve Got.’”

This year, once again, employees surveyed said they expect pay raises of 1 to 3%, or more.

Of managers who responded to the survey, 55% expected their companies to increase the number of full time employees this year.

“There will be a continuation of growth opportunities over the next several years within the plastics industry,” said Willem De Vos, CEO of SPE “This year’s polling again shows improvement in the perception of job stability, and anticipation of higher earnings. We should continue to see a healthy turn in the plastics industry, especially in the United States.”

Respondents in the 21-34 age group reported an average base salary of US$71,394. The average jumps to $99,318 for the 35-44 age group, continues to climb to well over US$100,000 for the 45+ age groups, and reaches a maximum of US$131,587 for those over 65. Total cash compensation reflects an even higher gap by age, with the 21-34 age group reporting US$76,911 on average compared to the 65+ age group reporting almost double at US$149,375.

Education plays a significant role in determining pay. Respondents with a post-graduate degree reported an average base salary of US$115,873 and average cash compensation of US$131,847, whereas those with a high-school level education reported an average base salary of US$77,557 and average cash compensation of US$92,500.

Respondents in executive management reported higher base salaries and total cash compensation than all other job titles. The average total cash compensation for job titles grouped as “executive management” was US$158,489, followed by job titles grouped as “Sales, Marketing, Customer Support” at US$137,734.