Salaries in the plastics industry are up, but total compensation is down, according to new numbers from Gros Executive Recruiters.
In a survey of 1,250 employees in the plastics business, the Franklin, Tenn.-based recruiting firm reports average base salaries increased by 0.7 percent to $104,722.
Job confidence also remained high for both managers and non-managers, the 2015 Plastics Salary and Trends Survey indicates.
The survey, conducted in conjunction with the Society of Plastics Engineers, includes employees from a variety of different plastics industry positions, not just engineers.
Overall average cash compensation fell by 2.2 percent for 2014, to an average of $119,576, down from $122,301 the previous year. This category includes salary as well as other incentives such as bonuses and commissions, explained Dennis Gros, president of Gros Executive Recruiters.
“My personal opinion about why this is happening is that employers are trying hard. The workforce is trying hard. The market is tough. Margins are tight. I think that's the reality,” Gros said.
“There's not a tremendous amount of profit money in the system to be shared right now. Again, that's conjecture. That's personal opinion. That's observation,” he said.
Gros, who has been conducting this survey since 2004, has not seen this situation before where average salaries were up but average total cash compensation was down.
Looking forward, most respondents expect to see raises in the 1 to 3 percent range this year, according to the survey.
Some 85 percent of managers who took part in the survey said they expect compensation to rise for employees this year. And 55 percent said they expect their firms to increase full-time employment numbers.
“There will be a continuation of growth opportunities over the next several years within the plastics industry,” said Willem De Vos, CEO of SPE, in a statement. “This year's polling again shows improvement in the perception of job stability, and anticipation of higher earnings.”
Along with higher earnings for 2015, employees also feel confident about their jobs, Gros said, as 76.9 percent of the respondents indicated they were “very” confident their jobs would be around in 12 months. Another 19 percent were “somewhat” confident.
The survey, with results released June 8, took place earlier this year and is based on 2014 numbers.
Even the total number of survey respondents can be an indicator of the health of the market, Gros said.
At 1,250 for this survey, the number is lower than in 2008, when about 3,200 people took part.
“When things are on a more consistent basis, people are generally not willing to invest as much time,” Gros said. “Things are good, I don't want to take the time. That's just the normal reaction.”
“There's a story to be told by the numbers who participate. And that story right now is generally we're stable. We're comfortable. We're not fat. But we're also not anxious. We feel, generally, stable and confident,” he said.
About 2,000 people took the survey in 2011. That's when the market was swinging up and people wanted to use that time to gauge where they stood coming out of the economic downturn.
Younger employees in the plastics industry, no surprise, make less than those who have been in the business longer.
Survey respondents from 21 to 34 had an average base salary of $71,394. That number increases to $99,318 for those ages 35 to 44, and “well over'' $100,000 for older workers. That includes an average of $131,587 for workers over 65, the survey reports.