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Salary surveys show plastics industry wages on the rise

By: Don Loepp

July 12, 2013

Wages are going up for employees in the plastics industry. Don't forget, that's good news. Last month we reported on two separate salary surveys — one from the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors and the Society of Plastics Engineers. Both indicated that salaries are starting to rise at North American plastics firms.

According to the MAPP survey, salaries are not only keeping pace with the improving overall business climate for the plastics industry — they may actually be outpacing the sector.

The median salary for a general manager in the 2003 survey was $84,536. Considering the rate of inflation in the past 10 years, that figure would be the equivalent of $106,832 today. But the 2013 median salary for a general manager is now $124,800.

The surveys say most plastics firms expect to add employees this year. A majority of workers expect to get raises this year, and managers participating in the survey said they expect to provide raises this year.

So plastics companies are optimistic enough to be adding workers, and many employees are getting raises that are outpacing inflation.

What a far cry from the Great Recession of 2009!

Is this a golden age for North American plastics production? Will we someday look back on the 2010 decade and think, "Those were the good old days"?

Maybe that's going a bit too far. But there's data that says most plastics companies are doing pretty well.

I recently wrote in "The Plastics Blog" that 92 percent of the top 100 North American injection molders reported higher sales this year. Unlike years past, the primary reason for the increase wasn't because resin prices were higher.

The North American automotive market is a big part of the story. Of those molders in our top 100 that list the auto market as a major sector, sales were up an average of 17 percent.

There's more than just optimism at play here. Whenever we talk about rising (or falling) wages, keep in mind that the laws of supply and demand are at work.

Plastics companies have been saying for months that they can't find enough talented workers. It's a good sign that many can afford to sweeten the payroll line item in order to attract — and retain — talented workers.

Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of "The Plastics Blog."