6 Thoughts on Compensation Data

Original Date: August 6, 2018

I am often asked about compensation data, salary and benefit surveys for the Southern Tier of NY and Northern Tier of PA.  The last comprehensive survey that was done for our surrounding communities was completed in 2012-2013, or earlier.  That specific survey was comprehensive and included a variety of industries, which provided significant information on comp and benefits.  The survey also included information on benefits and perks.  Where do we go now for information?  The compensation data is not readily available, graded and aged consistently.  Below are options to consider if you are looking for compensation and benefits data.

Below are my 6 thoughts on compensation data:

  1. Occupational Wages- NYS Department of Labor: The employment and wage data, by occupation is based on survey data which is collected from 51,000 businesses. The current data is based on November 2014-May 2017 dates and adjusted for 2018 COLA’s.  This is a website I use, it is easy to navigate.  Pennsylvania Information Here.
  2. United States Department Bureau of Labor Statistics: The data was collected in May of 2017, with data collected from employers in all industry sectors in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas throughout New York. Not as easy to navigate as the NYS website, but there is valuable information on this site as well for benchmarking.
  3. Alternatives Federal Credit Union Living Wage Survey: “In 1994, Alternatives Credit Union did its first Living Wage Study to address internal staff concerns about compensation levels. Rather than looking at what competitors paid, or what the statutory minimum wage was, the Credit Union wanted to look at what it took to support a person above the poverty level. It has continued to update this study every two years.”[i] The most recent living wage survey was successfully completed in 2017.  Mid 2019, we will see a new survey.  A great option to review living wage numbers for COLA’s.
  4. Other Website Options: Additional options include; com, indeed.com, salary.com, glassdoor.com. These websites provide useful information, the concern is the accuracy of the information being posted.  Salary.com and Payscale.com are comprehensive websites that breakdown information in an easy to search option.  Not every job title is listed, your organizations will need to compare and adjust accordingly.
  5. Society of Human Resource Management Compensation Data Center: “SHRM, in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson, provides SHRM members with accurate and customized salary information for an entire spectrum of jobs ranging from top executive to entry-level positions through the SHRM Compensation Data Center.” The website provides data on 204 individual job titles, with multiple reporting options available.  I have never purchased data from the website, but this is an additional option to obtain compensation data, in specific reporting formats.  A nice place to benchmark.
  6. Industry Specific Salary Surveys: Industry specific data or survey information might also be available. Manufacturing, nonprofit, healthcare, financial industry, etc.  This can be state, regional or national data.  In order to obtain the information, your organization will more than likely need to participate in the survey.  If you belong to any alliances, coalitions, chambers, etc. compensation data or survey participation might be available.

Federal & New York State Antitrust (Collusion Laws)

Enacted in 1890, the Sherman Act is among our country’s most important and enduring pieces of economic legislation. The Sherman Act prohibits any agreement among competitors to fix prices, rig bids, or engage in other anticompetitive activity. Criminal prosecution of Sherman Act violations is the responsibility of the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice.  New York’s antitrust law, sections 340-347 of New York’s General Business Law, is known as the Donnelly Act and was enacted in 1899.  Through amendment and interpretation, the Donnelly Act has come to follow closely the federal Sherman Act, although it differs in some key aspects.  Pennsylvania has similar laws regarding collusion.[ii]

If your organization is interested in conducting a salary and/or benefits survey for the surrounding areas, my recommendation is to ensure a third-party is responsible for collecting and distributing the compiled data to all participants (consultant, comp specialist, retired HR professional, etc.).  A third-party that is neutral and not a participating member of the survey, this will ensure the data is not skewed or misinterpreted.  There should be enough participants to ensure the data provides relevant and comprehensive information.  If you have any questions regarding compensation and benefits surveys or salary data, seek guidance.  There is information available, we just need to understand accurate from fictitious or exaggerated information.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

[i] https://www.alternatives.org/social-responsibility/impacting-our-community/living-wage-study.html

[ii] http://www.justice.gov/atr/price-fixing-bid-rigging-and-market-allocation-schemes

http://www.ag.ny.gov/antitrust/antitrust-enforcement

 

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