Good News for Associations in Latest Employment Studies

Separate analyses of the U.S. employment situation tell a promising story, but with a downside: Companies are hiring more people but doling out fewer raises. For association workers, there’s particularly good news.

According to new data, there’s good and bad news regarding the current employment situation in the U.S. in general. If you’re looking for mostly upside, look at associations.

Let’s start with the good across the board: According to the latest figures from the National Association for Business Economics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hiring is strong right now. NABE’s data shows hiring is at a three-year high, and  BLS reports that the unemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent last month.

Now for the bad: Pay raises are becoming increasingly rare.

NABE’s quarterly survey found that just 24 percent of companies increased wages and salaries between July and September 2014, down from 43 percent the previous quarter. And just one-third of those companies said they plan to offer raises this quarter. Fewer raises might be the result of small profit margins and weaker sales, according to NABE. Just 49 percent of the companies surveyed said their sales rose last quarter, down from 57 percent, and 14 percent reported a smaller profit margin, the largest number in a year.

The situation gets a little worse when you look specifically at organizations in the Washington, DC, region. According to 2014 Compensation Survey of the Human Resources Association of the National Capital Area (HRA-NCA), employers in and around DC are struggling to create jobs. The total number of jobs increased by just 0.3 percent in the last year; the only city with a lower rate of job growth was Detroit (0.1 percent). DC salaries increased by 3 percent, keeping pace with the national average.

Source: HRA-NCA 2014 Compensation Survey, via Washington Post

Source: HRA-NCA 2014 Compensation Survey, via Washington Post

Associations Show Strength

Data on the nonprofit community, however, tells a slightly different story. In its analysis of 318 businesses in the DC area, HRA-NCA found that associations had the strongest salary gains, at 4.3 percent. And while salaries at other nonprofits declined by 1 percent,  jobs specific to the industry (grant managers and fundraisers, for example) saw a 3.7 percent increase, the highest among industry-specific positions.

Source: HRA-NCA 2014 Compensation Survey, via Washington Post

Source: HRA-NCA 2014 Compensation Survey, via Washington Post

In an expanded look at nonprofit employment dating back to 2008, the Wall Street Journal’s Eric Morath reported that the sector offered more job stability and steadier wage increases than the private sector as a whole. Using BLS data, Morath found that through the last recession, nonprofit pay increased by more than 16 percent, and the number of jobs rose by 8.5 percent. Private-sector wages rose by almost 12 percent during the same period, but jobs fell by just over 3 percent.

According to ASAE’s 2014-2015 Association Compensation and Benefits Study, association employees saw strong gains in wages between 2012 and 2014. Executive officer pay increased 13.4 percent, and the average salary gain across all positions was 8.4 percent.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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