Employer survey forecasts higher pay, staffing


Submitted by the Management Association

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. ”Chicago-area employers are feeling more optimistic about the economy for 2012.

New survey results released Jan. 23  by the Management Association show 70 percent of Chicago-area businesses plan to give raises to their employees in 2012. In addition, 29 percent plan to  increase staff levels in 2012, while 53 percent of the companies surveyed said they would maintain staffing levels. Less than 5 percent said they plan to reduce staff, and about 13 percent had no specific plans.

Optimism increases

The survey shows employers optimism both for the overall economy as well as their own businesses, said Mary Lynn Fayoumi, president and CEO of the Management Association. As executives continue to manage their organizations through the challenging economy, most plan to trim costs by focusing mainly on process improvement initiatives during 2012.

The 2012 Economic Trends Survey was conducted by the Employer Associations of America on behalf of the Management Association and other organizations. Of the executives surveyed,  90 percent expect the outlook for the overall 2012 economy to be about the same or better compared with 2011.

“Employer confidence has improved from one year ago, with 70 percent of the participating organizations nationally having awarded pay increases in 2011. That is up from the 59 percent that planned an increase for 2011, Fayoumi said. We see a similar pattern for the 2012 forecast.

In the Chicago area, 64 percent  of respondents said the greatest barrier to job creation is  concern about further economic decline, while 16 percent cited limited consumer demand and 11 percent pointed to  excessive government regulations.

“Interestingly, 40 percent of respondents in the Chicago area have no cost-cutting measures planned for 2012, Fayoumi said. It not clear if this is a barometer of employers optimism or if it is an indicator of how lean companies are operating after past cost-cutting measures. The survey also indicated 26 percent of Chicago-area respondents plan to shift  a larger percentage of health care costs to employees.

Survey information

The Employer Associations of America surveyed 1,890 companies throughout the nation: 45 percent were  manufacturers, 10 percent were  providers of professional and business services, 6 percent were health services providers, and 39 percent   were in  other industries. The survey also represents all sizes of companies, from 1-99 employees (53 percent), 100-249 employees (25 percent), 250-499 employees (12 percent), 500-999 employees (5 percent), and more than  1,000 employees (5 percent). The survey data was collected from  October through November  2011.

Illinois results

Illinois had 363 respondents, or 19 percent of the total, making it the survey’s  single-largest participating state. About 45 percent of the Illinois respondents were in manufacturing, and about 70 percent of the total respondents had fewer than 250 workers. The Illinois results indicate 38 percent planned to increase staffing levels, while  46 percent of respondents said they had no plans to hire currently.  Sixty percent reported concerns about further economic decline. About 53 percent said they had process-improvement initiatives planned for this year, such as lean manufacturing programs. About 73 percent said they were planning to provide wage increases this year, and 76 percent said they boosted wages and salaries in 2011.

About Management Association

Management Association serves more than 1,000  Illinois companies and is a provider of  human resource expertise for businesses of all sizes. Management Association is a member of the Employer Associations of America, which serves 48,000 companies and 5.6 million employees nationally. For more information about Management Association, visit www.hrsource.org.

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