RALEIGH – Think a pay raise is already off the table given all the craziness of 2020? Think again.

A whopping 73 percent of companies have given salary increases this year, according to a recent survey.

Half of companies reported base pay increases between 3-3.99 percent in 2020 — compared to 3-3.1 percent, which has been the statewide trend over the last five years, noted Capital Associated Industries (CAI) in its annual statewide “Wage & Salary” Survey.

“We’ve conducted this survey for decades and were, in fact, surprised to learn that so many employers are providing increases, which is a stark contrast to what we saw in the wake of the Great Recession,” said CAI’s vice president of membership and HR Molly Hegeman. “Almost 50% of companies gave 0% increases in 2009.”

The survey did not report on if companies plan to restore pay and benefits to those who lost it due to COVID-19.

On average, organizations reported salaries are projected to increase 2.2 percent to 3.1 percent across all employees for 2021 – the former of which includes organizations giving zero percent.

Those numbers are down only slightly from 2.5 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively in 2020.

Other key findings from the survey include the following:

  • Nearly 40% reported allocating a larger portion of their salary increase to high performers.
  • Half of participating organizations adjust their salary range structure every 12 months, while 26% reported no formal timeframe.
  • The majority of employers calculate salary increases against an employee’s base rate, with only 12% calculating increases against the midpoint of the range.
  • Over the last several years, nonexempt and exempt employees have seen a steady increase in base pay, which dipped across the board in 2020.
  • Executive pay is projected to increase less than expected due to a larger number of employers providing this segment no increase at all.

While the majority of companies do intend to increase base salary pay next year, 26 percent have no plans to do so.

That’s 3 percent higher than the 23 percent who did not provide pay increases at all in 2020, and 15 percent higher than 2019.

Participants in the survey represent a number of industries, including manufacturing, professional and business services, health services, financial services and education.

Seventy-four percent are small to mid-size businesses, with less than 200 employees.

“We realize there are unique economic and financial circumstances across North Carolina employers,” added Hegeman. “Several contributing factors that quickly come to mind are whether or not a company received a PPP loan, loss of revenue or had to stay closed longer than others.”

Founded in 1963, CAI is a member-based nonprofit that empowers North Carolina employers to do more with less and access on-demand advice from employment lawyers and HR specialists.