Survey: Bay Area employers upbeat, paying competitively

An annual survey of Bay Area employers found them in an upbeat mood about the local economy, with fewer are reporting pay cuts and pay freezes this year, and more are concerned about high housing costs.

The survey by CompAnalysis, an Oakland-based compensation consulting firm, found that only 18 percent of employers expect the local economy to get worse next year, and only 8 percent feel things will get worse at their own firm or organization.

A comfortable 69 percent said they feel they are able to pay competitively this year, and 45 percent reported increasing the size of their work force in the first half of this year.

Concern about high housing costs has more than doubled from 2003 to 2007, with 35 percent now citing it as an “important issue.”

Only 7.8 percent reported any pay freezes this year, down from 13.5 percent last year and 38.4 percent, while just 1 percent reported pay cuts, down from 8.1 percent in 2003.

Budgets for salary increases for 2008 are reported at a steady 3.5 percent, the same as this year, and fewer employers report shifting benefits costs to employees this year.

While Bay Area salaries tend to be higher than the national average overall, certain jobs stand out. Bay Area legal assistants earn 52 percent more than the national average, and Bay Area human resources assistants earn 28 percent more. Administrative assistants earn only 5 percent more than the national average.

Average salaries tend to be highest in the Silicon Valley,110 percent of the Bay Area average, and lowest in the inner East Bay (97 percent of the Bay Area average) and the North Bay (95 percent of the Bay Area average.

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