2010 Salary Survey: Clouds of Concern Begin to Clear

Survey reveals readers are regaining confidence in their job security.

By Ken Schnepf, Managing Editor

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Before you read the 2010 story, why not check out the 2012 Salary Survey results. Click here to see why we say that salaries are moving ahead, slowly.

Chemical industry professionals believe they've weathered the worst of the economic storm, according to results of Chemical Processing's 2010 Salary and Job Satisfaction survey. This year, 52% (860) of respondents are concerned about job security and 48% (778) are not (Figure1) compared to 58% who were and 42% who were not in the 2009.

Looking at this another way, 49% (800) believe there's a very slight chance that they will be laid off or fired within in the next two years, while an additional 10% (170) think there's no chance at all. About 31% (509) expect there's a moderate chance of being fired or laid off within that period of time. These results mark a 2% improvement from last year. Only 6% (99) think layoffs or firings are likely and 4% (63) believe they're very likely (Figure 2).

"You will not get rich but it will be stable for 20 to 25 years," commented one respondent about working in the chemical industry.

Pay, Raises, Bonuses Drop
For the first time since the survey was established in 2005, the average salaries reported by respondents declined — from $107,804 in 2009 to $97,554 this year. Until now, average salaries have steadily increased. In 2005, the average salary was $85,234; in 2006, $89,690; in 2007, $90,038; and in 2008, $95,231. (Table 1). Small percentage declines in those reporting annual incomes within the $115,000 to $125,000 pay ranges and increases in those earning $80,000 to $95,000 account for the decrease in the average salaries reported.

"The recent economic downturn halted bonuses and raises last year and maybe this year, which is really disappointing considering our site had one of the best years ever," noted one respondent. "I believe that I am well compensated for my skill and education level and the benefits are good."

Average pay raises also fell for the second consecutive year, to 3.68% compared to 4.23% in 2009 and 5.06% in 2008. Additionally, average bonuses decreased from $6,407 in 2009 to $5,835 this year.

"Everyone would like to earn more, but I feel that I am being paid fairly for the job," said another respondent.

That echoes the sentiment of many. Indeed, the majority of respondents remain content with their compensation levels, with 58.74% (968) believing they are adequately compensated. However, 41.26% (426) report they are not fairly compensated.

"Compensation is fine — but a pension plan would be a great improvement," grumbled a respondent. "The current financial crisis makes it very difficult to feel comfortable with security during retirement."

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