Wages are going up for employees in the plastics industry, or at least are expected to increase for workers who haven't seen a raise yet.
In separate surveys, the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors and the Society of Plastics Engineers noted a trend for increasing salaries at North American plastics firms.
In addition, the MAPP study notes that the majority of firms expect to add employees.
"More than half of executives reported that they plan on hiring new employees in the next 12 months," said Troy Nix, executive director of Indianapolis-based MAPP, in a June 17 news release about the group's 2013 Wage and Salary Report.
MAPP has produced five previous reports and worked with First Resource Inc., also based in Indianapolis, on the 2013 survey. Participants came from 200 companies, reporting wage and salary information on 16,500 employees. The full report is available from MAPP.
The MAPP survey pointed to salaries keeping pace with the improving overall business climate for the plastics industry. 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.
The 2013 median salary for a general manager has climbed faster than inflation, though, hitting $124,800 in the new report.
"Overall, I would say that the data in this report indicates an overall increase and expansion of wages and general compensation," Nix said.
The SPE Plastics Salary and Trends Survey is in its ninth year, conducted by SPE and Gros Executive Recruiters. It drew data from 2,144 plastics professionals, SPE said in a June 18 news release. More details on the SPE report will be available in the July/August issue of SPE's magazine, Plastics Engineering, and will be available to SPE members through the organization's website.
While the SPE study showed compensation decreasing slightly in 2012 — with an average total compensation of $110,325 compared to $112,380 in 2011and $111,124 in 2010 — Dennis Gros, president of Gros Executive Recruiters of Franklin, Tenn., said in a June 18 telephone interview that does not necessarily mean real wages went down.
Statisticians working on the study noted the change could be due to a larger number of individuals taking part in the survey, a 50 percent increase compared to last year, he said. The wider sample could mean a wider range of workers taking part.
Regardless of the compensation dollars involved, most employees are optimistic.
"Overwhemingly, workers feel increasingly secure that their jobs will exist 12 months from now," Gros said. "The job market and the available talent are closer to balance now, compared to any point in the past five years."
Slightly more than 77 percent of employees in the SPE survey said they expect an increase in their base salary this year. That is nearly a carbon copy of the response to the same question in 2012, when 75 percent of professionals told SPE and Gros that they expected a raise during the year.
More importantly, managers participating in the survey said they expect to provide raises this year.
"[People] look around and see the pent up demand that the industry has," he said. "The liquidity hasn't been there to apply to raises yet, but patience runs out after a while. Both sides are reading the equations with the same set of eyes."
Gros said the responses point to improvements in pay that may be “[not] magnanimous, but measurable.” In the survey, 63 percent of the 881 managers who participated said they expect to provide a 1-3 percent raise for workers in 2013. Another 14 percent expected to hand out raises equal to 4-6 percent.
In addition, he noted that his company's job market index shows a balanced outlook between employers and employees for the first time in several years.
The index is a "bird's eye view" of the employment market in the plastics industry, designed to give an overall look at whether the market is hiring or reducing employment base. During recent years, Gros said, the index favored employers, indicating there was a surplus in the labor base and businesses had more power. Now the pendulum has shifted to the point that potential employees and employers are on an equal footing.