A shortage of qualified workers is pushing up salaries in some segments of the plastics processing industry, according to a new study.
The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors' new 2017 Wage and Salary Report shows strong wage growth for positions such as CNC operators, mold and die setters, mold maintenance, project engineers, warehouse material handlers, production schedulers and those in secondary operations and assembly.
While the U.S. inflation rate is 1.9 percent, employees in these positions experienced wage increases of more than 5 percent. And some positions are up even higher.
"Normally when we see those kinds of jumps, we're looking at the staff level, the senior leadership type positions," said Ashley Burleson, membership, engagement and analytics manager for MAPP.
But with low unemployment rates, plastics processors are in greater competition to find qualified people for jobs on the production floor, she said.
"If we want those people, we have to offer them competitive compensation," she said. "Once we get them, we need to get them to stay here."
Mold/die setters, for example, had a median hourly wage of $15.11 in 2016, but saw that number rise to $16.50 in 2017, according to the survey.
And those in secondary operations and assembly saw their median hourly salary increase from $12 to $13 from one year to the next. Machinists/CNC operators had a median salary increase from $21.16 to $22.79, the survey reports.
"You are competing for these individuals in a market that's already so small. Everybody wants these skilled positions [workers], everyone's trying to get people. Now we're seeing the data behind that," Burleson said.
But not every position saw an increase from 2016 to 2017. A number of the nearly 60 positions surveyed saw year-over-year average decreases. Those positions include chief inspector and electrician, both -4 percent; customer service manager, -13 percent; design engineer, -7 percent; general manager, -2 percent; and human resources director/manager and information systems manager, both -5 percent, for example.
Some 220 companies participated in the latest survey, up from slightly less than 200 last year. And 57 percent of the job descriptions had wage increases above inflation. The overall compensation increase averaged 2 percent.
"Exactly 70 percent of the plastics job titles experienced either stagnant salaries or some amount of growth in compensation. Roughly 26 percent of positions analyzed in this year's report revealed a greater than 5 percent growth in wage/salary," the report states.
Companies taking part in the report had nearly 39,000 full- and part-time employees, Indianapolis-based MAPP reported. Of those companies participating, 190 are in injection molding, 14 in extrusion, 5 in structural foam molding, 4 in thermoforming, 2 in mold building and 1 each in compression molding and distribution. Three other respondents are listed as 'other.'
A vast majority of the participating companies, 183, also indicated they expect to hire new employees over the next year. Only eight companies said they did not expect to hire, and another 30 companies were not sure.
For more information about the report, including details on its purchase, go to www.mappinc.com.