a publication of Cascade Employers Association

MARCH 2012    

   Dollars & Sense Poll

  In This Issue:



Pay Strategy In An Uncertain Business Climate
A Free Webinar!

Are you ready for an up-to-date and concise overview of what is current in the compensation world? Jerry Bumgarner, Director of Research and Compensation Services at Cascade, has just released a fourteen minute webinar to keep you current.

Hear Jerry’s perspective on the research he has done regarding Oregon’s business climate and his recommendations for pay planning given the uncertain outlook.


  • What Oregon executives are saying about the 2012 business climate
  • What to expect in terms of Oregon pay increases and pay freezes for the year
  • The data sources that are available to help you track trends in our market
  • How he believes Human Resources should respond to market trends
  • Why linking people and pay to business results is critical organization success
  • How the right pay strategy can support a harmonious and results oriented workforce

Click here and download this free webinar!


Salary Trends and the Future of Our Economy

By Jerry E. Bumgarner, CCP
Director, Research and Compensation Services

Mixed views abound among Oregon executives about the future of our economy. While some believe a rebound is eminent, others fear further decline or even a bust. I attended an Oregon Economic Forum recently where the economist said the Portland and Salem areas are experiencing slow but consistent growth. However, as far as a full recovery is concerned, he added that this is still a big question mark. So, given the economic uncertainties, how can you know what to expect in terms of revenue and hiring for 2012? And, what should you be planning for salaries? While you can always “wing it,” there is an abundance of data available to help you make more informed decisions.

Market surveys, including those conducted by Cascade Employers Association through SalaryTrends®, shed some light on the Oregon business climate and include future salary increase projections.

Business Climate

According to the results of Cascade’s 2012 Economic Trends Survey, while a degree of optimism exists in all business sectors, manufacturers tend to be more optimistic about the 2012 business climate than their counterparts in the non-manufacturing sectors. This survey of nearly 2,000 organizations reflects the views of executives across the nation from all types of companies.

Following are summaries of what Oregon and Southwest Washington executives said about 2012:

  1. 87% say the business outlook is equal or better than 2011
  2. 61% expect slight to significant increases in revenue compared to 2011
  3. 49% are trimming costs through lean/ process improvements
  4. 44% are planning significant investments in people, facilities and/or equipment
  5. 51% plan to maintain staff at 2011 levels
  6. 26% plan to increase staff above 2011 levels
  7. 56% say the biggest barrier to job creation is fear of further economic decline

Pay Changes

During the last few years, employers across the nation and in Oregon have laid people off, frozen or reduced pay, and decreased the size of pay increases. Given this backdrop, what do you think has been happening with salaries in Oregon? Have they been falling or rising? Cascade’s surveys indicate that, with a few exceptions, the salary levels for most job classifications are rising. Rising slowly, but rising nevertheless.

Results from the 2012 Salary Budget Survey by SalaryTrends® indicate that more local and national employers are planning to give pay increases in 2012. Whereas the projected average increases are similar to those given in 2011, the 2012 trend towards more employers awarding increases and fewer employers freezing or decreasing pay is worth noting. Following are summary responses from Oregon and Southwest Washington employers:

  1. 60% are planning to give salary increases to executives
    (compared to 53% in 2011)
  2. 40% are planning to freeze or reduce executive salaries
    (compared to 47% in 2011)
  3. Executive increases are expected to average 3.3%
    (2.0% after freezes/reductions)
  4. 76% are planning wage/salary increases for non-executives
    (compared to 70% in 2011)
  5. 24% are planning to freeze or reduce pay for non-executives
    (compared to 30% in 2011)
  6. Non-executive increases are expected to average 3.1%
    (2.4% after freezes/reductions)
  7. 32% are planning to award employees bonuses in 2012
    (about the same as 2011)

The 2012 Oregon Regional Pay Survey by SalaryTrends® also points to rising wage and salary levels in Oregon and Southwest Washington. In fact, median rates for 63 common benchmark jobs in this survey rose by an average of 6% (range of 0.5% to 19%) from 2011 to 2012. To further illustrate how salaries have been rising; the following table shows the average change in median salary levels for five job classification groups (consist of 4 jobs each). Note the magnitude of the median rate increases for the customer service, sales, and marketing job groups. Given that the increases were not found to be due to small sample sizes or significant survey sample swings, I believe these changes may very well indicate a trend among area employers to invest more in these key customer contact roles in order to support talent recruiting and retention needs, and to directly impact their bottom lines.

Job Classification GroupAvg. Median
Rate Increases
Customer Service (4 Jobs)10%
Shipping and Receiving (4 Jobs)    10%
Sales and Marketing (4 Jobs)8%
Human Resources (4 Jobs)4%
Manufacturing (4 Jobs)4%

So, from a Human Resources perspective, how much should organizations pay employees to support their recruiting and retention objectives when the future business climate is uncertain? Jerry will cover some ideas for Flexible Pay Strategies in next month’s FreshView.


Survey Spotlight

By Tina Hamel, Survey Manager

SalaryTrends® surveys from Cascade Employers Association cover the pay practices of diverse organizations from various markets (Oregon, SW Washington, Northwest Regional, and National), and include multiple relevant data summaries. These valuable tools enable users to evaluate their competitiveness within specific talent markets.

Now Open for participation:

Contact us with questions at


FreshView on Compliance: Travel Time

By Cascade Staff

Under ordinary circumstances, time spent traveling to and from work is not compensable. However, travel time related to assignments which take the employee away from the regular work place or which require an overnight stay is generally considered hours worked, must be paid, and must be included when calculating overtime for non-exempt employees.

If a special one-day assignment or after-work meeting requires an employee to travel more than thirty miles from the official workstation, time spent en route must be counted as hours worked. This is paid time whether the employee is driving or riding as a passenger.

Whether a non-exempt employee is compensated for time away from home while on an overnight business trip or assignment is dependent upon the time of day the travel occurs and what activities take place during that travel.

For more information, contact us to request our Travel and Training Time Guidelines.


Employee Recognition At Its Best

Cirque Du Soleil’s “OvO”

Cirque Du Soleil: OvORecognize your outstanding employees and customers, or create an employee benefit for your entire team. Cascade members get special pricing to Cirque Du Soleil’s “OvO,” performing April 5 through May 20, 2012 at the
Portland Expo Center.

Easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Click here
  2. Choose the date, time, and your seats
  3. You will then be prompted to create a username and password, and enter the company code CASCADEEMP


Did You Know?

Are you curious to know what is negotiable during the hiring process at other companies? I was, too, so I took a look at the 2011/2012 National Policies and Benefits Survey.

  • In organizations with less than 100 employees, both union and non-union, vacation/time off is negotiable about 57% of the time in the hiring process. The averages go even higher to 73.8% of the time for exempt level positions.
  • Pay is almost always negotiable during the hiring process, with the average at 93.5% across all categories.
  • In a surprising (to me) twist, tuition reimbursement is negotiable at an average rate of 13.78% across all categories.
  • Professional memberships were reported at an average of 22% across all categories.

Does this reflect your hiring practices? Participate in the poll on our Facebook page and see how others are responding this week.

©2012 Cascade Employers Association. All rights reserved.
SalaryTrends® is a trademark of Cascade Employers Association.
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