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Utah leads among 4 states in regional pay survey

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SALT LAKE CITY — A new study shows that Utah workers received higher pay hikes than individuals doing the same jobs in neighboring states.

Employers Council recently published its 2020 Utah Benchmark Compensation Survey featuring the latest information on annual wage increases along with projections for the near-term future. The Utah Benchmark Compensation Survey — compiled before the coronavirus outbreak — provides comprehensive data on salary benchmarks for a wide range of positions ranging from clerks to C-suite executives.

“This survey and the data we collect is a snapshot — it’s a moment in time and the employer discloses (wage information) based on the positions, the functions that the individual performs (and) what they’re paying at that moment in time,” said Ryan Nelson, president of Employers Council’s Utah office. “We collect all the data from the employers, put it into a survey and provide that to employers so that they can see what the market, based on a certain position, is paying at that point in time.”

The study examined over 400 positions with more than 11,000 employees participating, a news release stated. The report showed the average salary increase for Utah in 2020 was the same as the year before at 3.3%. The average pay for full-time, entry-level personnel increased from $14.88 in 2019 to $15.65 this year.

The survey also compiled data on three other Western states, revealing that the Beehive State posted higher average industry pay raises compared to nearby surrounding states, including Arizona at 3%, Colorado at 3.1% and Wyoming at 2.4%.

“This year’s annual Employers Council Compensation Survey with projected stats for the future may be particularly more important than previous years considering how much has changed in the job atmosphere in 2020,” Nelson said.

The information is intended to help Utah organizations to stay competitive regarding employee compensation, Nelson said. These surveys provide a thorough examination of state and regional salary policies, including base salaries, average percent pay increases and hiring rates, he said.

“The bottom line with the survey is it gives executive decision-makers the ability to understand with metrics what the market is doing, and then decide where they want to position their organization from a compensation perspective relative to the market,” he said.

“It’s better than just Googling the information or trying to ask other employers. It’s a metrics-based approach to determining how you pay your employees,” Nelson said. “Second, it gives an idea of what the economy within the state is doing, based on the percentage of increases that companies are providing to their employees. Finally, it gives employers an idea what employees can or perhaps will expect when they are evaluating offers to come and work for your company.”

Noting the data in the report is pre-COVID-19, and doesn’t take into account the economic impact and the adjustments that businesses have made with the COVID-19 crisis, Nelson reiterated that the data presents a snapshot of where things were when the economy was humming along, which means employers will have to make significant adjustments for the time being.

“What we’ve experienced is a lot of CEOs, a lot of companies have temporarily reduced wages with the hopes that things will improve, the economy will rebound, and wages can be increased back to where they were,” he said. “We can continue moving forward from that. This survey gives an executive the ability to understand where we were and hopefully where we can get back to from a practical perspective.”

He added that the pandemic is having such a major impact right now, leaving many companies economically challenged and employees wages at lower-than-expected levels.

“We’ve seen this from lots of the companies we work with,” Nelson said. “So the survey represents a point of destination as a marker of recovery and what we can get back to.”