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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Frozen wages common in area

Pay survey measures responses to downturn

Nearly half of Spokane-area employers said they froze wages in the past year, according to a recent business survey. And 36 of 95 firms responding to the survey said they laid off workers, with most predicting they wouldn’t be hiring people back during 2010.

The results were gathered by Associated Industries, a Spokane-based provider of workplace training, legal services and other business options benefits.

Freezes were the most-cited option for area companies in the current downturn, said Bill Sweigert, vice president of training and human resources at Associated Industries.

Layoffs were second (36 companies), with reduced hours third, cited by 26 respondents. The impact survey was done to show businesses their options and learn how other companies are doing, said Sweigert.

For two decades Associated Industries has compiled a detailed survey of pay levels in the area. The most recent version of that survey is being completed, Sweigert said.

Among the economic-impact survey’s other findings:

•46 of the 95 companies responding froze managers’ salaries; 42 froze wages for senior staff; 45 froze entry-level wages.

•At the same time 23 of the 95 companies raised salaries for both managers and senior staff, while 25 did so for entry-level jobs.

•Companies that increased salaries gave the largest increases for managers, averaging 9.7 percent. Where companies gave across-the-board raises, the average was 4.6 percent.

•Companies cutting salaries across the board sliced hardest at senior staff, by an average of 16.3 percent. But pay cuts by those same companies hit managers almost as hard, at 16.1 percent.

•By sector, the largest number of firms laying off workers were manufacturers. Twenty-four of 38 manufacturing companies reported layoffs. “Overall the numbers show we’re in a serious downturn,” said Sweigert.

While roughly one-fourth of firms reported pay raises across-the-board, that’s half the usual rate, he said.

Typically the pay raise group is about 50 percent in the annual compensation survey, he said.

“That (25 percent) is the lowest level since the compensation survey began in 1988,” said Sweigert.

The economic impact survey also asked companies what they expect during the coming year. It found 11 percent expect more layoffs or reduced hours; 32 percent said they’d hire people or add hours for workers; and 32 percent said they saw no change in 2010.

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