Hot off the Presses – Preliminary Base Pay Increases from CAI Wage Survey

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Preliminary 2015 and projected 2016 increases ARE IN from the 2015 NC Wage & Salary Survey that was recently conducted. Thank you to all members who participated in this valuable survey! Without regular member support, these preliminary findings and final, high quality reports are not possible. As many of you know, this is a milestone year with representation from 3 associations across the state of North Carolina. We are very pleased to take this survey to the next level in market representativeness and robustness.


So, are employers giving increases? Do we have a tick up from last year? See the tables below to learn average base pay increases for 2015 and as projected for 2016 by statewide employers for all employee categories. Please note that these values are considered preliminary until the final report is released end of July/early August. However we do not expect reported increases to significantly change. A change of -0.2% to 0.2% per increase may happen once all data is finalized and tabulated.


Preliminary 2015 Actual Base Pay Increases


Employee Category

Average Percent Increase

for 2015 (including 0%)

Average Percent Increase

for 2015 (excluding 0%)

Nonexempt Hourly (NEH)



Nonexempt Salaried (NES)



Exempt Salaried (ES)



Officer/Executive (O/E)




Overall, employers have broken the 3% mark for 2015, on average and excluding 0%. Only 13% of employers gave 0% increase this year to exempt employees; 15% gave 0% to nonexempt hourly employees. Every year since the 2008 economic fallout, the percentage of employers keeping salaries flat has steadily decreased. Important to note, however, is the prevalence of higher increases, as can be seen in the swing between including and excluding 0%. More to come in the final report on the percentage of employers giving greater than 3%, 4%, and even higher.


Preliminary 2016 Base Pay Projections


Employee Category

Average Percent Increase

2016 Projection (including 0%)

Average Percent Increase

2016 Projection (excluding 0%)

Nonexempt Hourly (NEH)



Nonexempt Salaried (NES)



Exempt Salaried (ES)



Officer/Executive (O/E)




Similar to 2015 increases, employers seem to be on track to pay about a 3% increase in 2016, on average and excluding 0%. Only 12% of employers are planning to give 0% increase in 2016 to exempt employees; 14% are planning to give 0% to nonexempt hourly employees. Also, projections tend to come in notably lower than actual increases due to conservative estimates, fewer employers giving a response, etc. Potentially a good sign to see greater than 3% for 2016.


Despite quite a bit of bear market buzz nationally, there is just as much bull market buzz especially for our state. The job market is complicated with areas doing very well (growth, hiring, competition for top talent) while other areas are still underperforming. Unemployment numbers seem to change with the wind, and let's be honest, there are 100 ways to slice and dice that data. Overall, locally, these projections provide a positive outlook for 2016. It will be interesting to see specifics in the fall when we collect pay for performance (high/low) in the CAI Pay Trends Survey.


Do you want to ensure your organization is receiving the opportunity to participate in CAI Surveys? Contact the CAI Survey Team today. And don't forget to join the CAI Surveys Group on myCAI for extra data and discussion.