Tough Economic Times Could Force Salary Freezes in Southern California

By | November 16, 2008

Given today’s tough economic times, most insurance agencies and carriers in the Southern California region are not planning to give their employees cost of living increases in 2009, although many companies have not yet decided, according to a recent survey conducted by San Diego Insurance Staffing.

In its Annual Cost of Living Survey that polled 661 persons throughout Southern California — Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, Temecula and San Diego areas — 40 percent of respondents indicated they were not giving cost of living increases, which often are tied to performance/merit increases. And 31 percent said they were undecided.

Companies giving increases noted the salary increases would most likely be in the 2.5 percent to 4 percent range for exempt and nonexempt employees. Fifteen percent of respondents said the increase would be in the 2.5 percent to 3 percent range; 23 percent said the increase would be in the 3.01 to 3.5 percent range; and nearly 31 percent of respondents said the increase would be in the 3.51 to 4 percent range.

Another 15.4 percent of respondents said the increase would be in the 4.51 percent to 5 percent range; nearly 8 percent of respondents said the increase would be in the 2.01 to 2.5 percent range; and nearly 8 percent of said the increase would be zero percent.

“We have had a freeze on annual increases since April 2008,” said one respondent. “This will probably run until April 2009. However, if an employee is promoted, they receive an increase so they are in line with the salary for that position.”

Another company said in addition to not increasing employees’ salaries, workers also had lost their health and dental coverage “due to decreased business and cash flow.”

Despite the salary and market conditions, at least one company said it was providing optional sales resources to its employees to help increase their income.

While the survey sample size was relatively limited, Michelle Castro, operations administrator for San Diego Insurance Staffing said the results nevertheless “shed light into what some clients plan on doing for 2009.”

Of respondents, 71.4 percent represented insurance agencies, 14.3 percent represented insurance companies, 8.6 represented managing general agents and 5.7 percent represented other types of companies in the industry.

Most companies (65.7 percent) had 49 or fewer employees. Twenty percent of respondents were companies with 50 to 250 employees. About 11 percent represented companies with more than 501 employees, and 2.9 percent of respondents represented companies with 251 to 500 employees.

For more information on the survey, contact San Diego Insurance Staffing at www.sdistaffing.com.

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