With all due respect to the Chinese calendar, Dennis Gros sees 2018 a bit differently.
This is the year of the dog, for those following the Chinese zodiac.
But it's not going to be a pooch when it comes to compensation, the president of the Recruiting Division of Molding Business Services said.
"I think the industry is warm, getting hot. It's an exciting time. It's a challenging time for anyone in human resources. I'm calling this the year of the raise. I really am. This is the year of the raise," Gros said.
Gros recently sold his plastics industry recruiting firm, formerly known as Gros Executive Recruiting, to MBS of Florence, Mass., another player in plastics employment services and mergers and acquisitions.
He conducts a survey each year in conjunction with the Society of Plastics Engineers, examining wage and hiring trends in the business.
And he's not seen this kind of activity in the hiring market for a while.
"It's an optimistic time and employees have expectations," Gros said.
Those expectations translated to a record number of people taking part in the survey, which was conducted earlier this year for 2017 compensation. A total of 1,998 people submitted information through an online portal, he said.
"The job market is picking up steam monthly right now," Gros said.
Employees, after facing years of uncertainty or limited options, are viewing the job market differently these days.
"We are at one point in time, right now, probably the most uplifting events in compensation since the 2008 recession," Gros said. "People are looking at their situation right now and saying it's time for a raise."
But while workers, in general, seem more emboldened to seek additional compensation, he said that does not translate in employment wanderlust.
"I'll tell you what I don't see: I do not see a general malcontent of workers. There's still a lot of loyalty. I'm not saying folks are ready to move their toolboxes and their briefcases somewhere else. That's not the case. There's a lot of loyalty," Gros said.
"But there are expectations that the combination of intense effort and smart moves by an employee should result in a compensation increase. They are not ready to move, but they are ready to be recognized," he said.
New statistics from SPE and MBS show just how much salaries are on the rise.
The latest survey indicates the average base salary increased by 4.32 percent in 2017. Average total compensation increased by 6.03 percent.
These figures are the second-highest reported in the past decade, according to the report. Only numbers in 2014 were more.
The survey is based on a random sample of 1,998 plastics industry professionals, and "all references to statistical significance in the report are at the 95 percent confidence level," SPE indicates, with a margin of error at plus or minus 2.08 percent.
Those increases follow decreases in four of the past five years for both base salary and total compensation.
Gros sees two job areas where there is especially strong demand for workers these days: business development sales personnel and maintenance.
"I think the expansion is spurred by economic growth. A number of the positions we're being called to work on right now are expansion positions," he said.
Companies, Gros said, are looking to broaden their markets and hiring more people to make those needed sales.
They are also looking to hire more maintenance workers to ensure equipment and operations remain operational in these improving times. Some of that might be from delayed maintenance in the past, but Gros believes the optimism of the industry is also pushing this trend.
"It's not like its fixing old machines. It's forward thinking; it's systems oriented," he said. "Just all across the board maintenance. The buzzword is preventative maintenance."