Survey finds pay increases make return | NevadaAppeal.com

Survey finds pay increases make return

John Seelmeyer
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Pay increases for Northern Nevada workers are creeping back toward pre-recession levels, and raises for management and professional workers are leading the way.

A survey conducted by the Nevada Association of Employers finds that raises ran slightly above 3 percent last year among the approximately 60 employers who participated in the study.

That’s more than double the raises of about 1.5 percent reported in 2009, during the deepest months of the recession. And it’s a bit more even than the annual raises of about 2.75 percent that were reported by employers in 2008, as the region’s economy began slipping into the downturn.

In 2006, raises ran about 4.6 percent, the Nevada Association of Employers’ survey found.

In 2010, raises were slightly higher for managerial and professional employees, said companies that participated in the survey. Pay increases for those workers averaged 3.17 percent, compared with 3.12 percent for other salaried employees and 3.01 percent for hourly workers.

That’s a switch from the past couple of years, when increases for hourly workers – however small – were greater than those for management and professional staff.

In 2009, for instance, the association survey found that raises for hourly workers averaged 1.69 percent compared with 1.19 percent for management and professional staff.

And in 2008, the companies that responded to the survey said that raises for hourly workers ran about a quarter of a percentage point higher than those for white-collar workers.

Jim Nelson, executive director of the Nevada Association of Employers, said the average pay increases hide a wide disparity in pay increases among individual firms.

For management and professional positions last year, for instance, the largest raises reported by the employers who responded to the survey totaled 9 percent. On the other end of the scale, one employer reported that it cut management salaries by 13 percent.

Among other salaried employees, raises reported in the survey ranged from zero to 10 percent. For hourly workers, the biggest raises were 9.5 percent, but another employer reported that wages were cut 6 percent.

Increases in pay last year appear to reflect a growing awareness among employers of the importance of retaining their staffs as the economy recovers, Nelson said.

He noted that some studies have found that as many as 50 percent of workers say they’ll be looking for a new job with the recovery.

“Employers need to recognize that, if they’ve got some quality people, there is a 50-50 chance they’re going to leave when the economy gets better,” Nelson said.

Faced with big costs to recruit and train workers to fill vacancies, many employers are willing to increase pay to improve retention, he said. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, which tracks pay levels for nearly every job in the state, found more modest increases in 2010.

ON THE NET

The state compiles current pay rates for more than 700 occupations, and reports them by industry and county. You can download current rates at: http://www.nevadaworkforce.com/?PAGEID=67&SUBID=117