Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce releases 2013 Wage and Benefits Survey

  • Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Center for Business Research (CBR), a department of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, completed and released the 2013 Charleston SC Metro Area Wage and Benefits Survey comprised of significant data in three major categories: Benefit Plans and Benchmarks, Compensation Practices and Workforce Challenges. The study compiles information from human resource experts representing member and non-member organizations in the tri-county region.

The CBR has conducted the bi-annual survey since 1997. Mary Graham, senior vice president of business advocacy and research states, “The survey provides benchmarks for strategic planning purposes while helping organizations evaluate their compensation plans more effectively. It shows employers’ reactions to current and future economic climates and employment regulations.”

A total of 55 organizations in the three-county metropolitan area responded representing multiple industries and more than 25,000 workers or nearly 10 percent of total employment in the region. The largest single industry sector represented in the survey was manufacturing (51 percent of firms and 32% of employees represented).

Participating firms were diverse in size as measured either by employment or payroll. Study participation was fairly evenly dispersed among small, medium and large-sized firms. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of firms reported having a facility in Charleston County and nearly one quarter (24 percent) noted a Berkeley County location. Almost one-third (29 percent) reported a Dorchester County site.

26 percent of respondents represent global organizations and 28 percent have multiple locations in the U.S.

A brief summary of findings includes the following:

• Pay increases: The majority of firms expect to provide approximately the same percentage increase to employees next year as they did last year, between two and three percent.

• Cost of benefits: The majority of firms reported the cost of benefits to be in the range of 31 percent to 40 percent of total compensation costs.

• Workforce challenges: At least half of manufacturers and non-manufacturing firms specified hard skills/technical skills and industry knowledge as their key workforce challenge.

• Medical insurance premiums: The average percentage of medical insurance premiums that companies pay for their “employee only” option is 78 percent as reported by manufacturing participants and 71 percent as reported by non-manufacturing participants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employers nationwide as of March 2013 paid an average of 80 percent of the cost of medical premiums for single or employee-only coverage and just under 70 percent of the cost for family or “employee plus dependents” coverage (

• Medical insurance plans: The most popular plan among all responding firms is the PPO.

• Impact of Affordable Care Act (ACA): Nearly one-third of respondents (32 percent) reported no noticeable impact thus far and 49 percent do not expect noticeable impact. Conversely, 34 percent of respondents predict future reductions in company-paid insurance coverage and five percent of respondents have reduced employee hours and/or number of employees.

• 22 percent are unsure of additional impacts of ACA.

The full survey is available at


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