Chamber Wage, Benefit Survey Helps with Development Efforts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The data gathered by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s wage and benefit survey will help local companies and improve efforts to attract new employers to the region, chamber officials say. 

The chamber, which periodically collects wage and benefits data from area businesses, opened its current survey March 25 and will close it June 25. Click HERE to complete the survey online.

In the survey, the chamber seeks information about employee demographics, time-off policy, medical and other benefits, and wages from businesses located in the Youngstown-Warren metropolitan statistical area – which covers Mahoning and Trumbull counties, along with Mercer County, Pa. – and Columbiana County. 

“It’s now a good time to conduct the survey again because we’ve enticed a lot of job changes and a lot of employers are having issues and difficulties finding workforce,” says Michelle Phillips, the chamber’s director of research.     

According to Phillips, chamber members frequently request wage data when they are doing budgets and setting contracts, or because they are looking to hire new employees and want to be competitive in their compensation. The information is also given to companies that are considering establishing operations in the Valley.

“When a company comes into our market, the first thing they are looking for is ‘Do you have the employees and how much are we paying them?’ ” Phillips says.  

Such information represents “a major part of the decision-making process” for companies that are looking at the area, and the chamber is often the first entity contacted for workforce data, says Sarah Boyarko, the chamber’s chief operating officer and senior vice president of economic development. 

“Workforce needs are at the top of the list when it comes to attracting a company to the market, always in the top three decision-making factors, if not number one,” she says. “There is stiff competition when it comes to attracting investment and we must be at the top of our game every day of the week. Ensuring that we have an available and educated workforce is an important part of that process and the data we collect in the wage and benefits survey helps to tell that story.” 

Local pay and benefits often are competitive with larger markets such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh, which makes the region stand out, Phillips says, and having good local data to provide companies looking at the area helps with development efforts.

The chamber surveys have also found that some local companies might offer lower wages but a more attractive benefit package, information the company can use to educate its employees about why their current workplace is attractive, she says. The average cost of searching for a new employee is $4,000. 

“So we’re working to help businesses find a compensation strategy that will help them keep their workers and attract new ones,” she says. 

“Costs associated with employment are a significant part of a company’s overall spend, and locating and retaining employees can be very expensive and time consuming,” Boyarko adds. “If it’s not done right, the ongoing inability to locate the appropriate workforce can be a hindrance to a company’s bottom line.”

Businesses can participate in the survey online or by downloading it from the Regional Chamber’s website. Submission will be confidential.

The survey will be published at the end of August, Phillips says. All participants will receive a copy of the survey at no additional cost, and it will be available to nonparticipants for a fee. 

As an additional incentive, the chamber will give a $25 gift card to a member restaurant to a survey participant at the end of each month between now and the closing of the survey.

Response to the survey has been “pretty decent” but the chamber wants to encourage businesses of all sizes from a wide range of industries to participate, Phillips says. 

While businesses in all sectors are invited to participate, the chamber is interested particularly in hearing from firms in wholesale, health care, technology and construction, she says. These  sectors, which represent the most frequently requested data, offer the widest variety of firm size, wage range and skilled/in-demand positions. 

“We have some targeted industries that we’ve been doing on our own … but we’d like to let everyone know that it is open to all companies in our market,” she says. 

The goal is to get responses from several hundred companies, she says. As more firms participate, the results will provide greater insight and lead to better data-driven decision making capabilities for the firms that utilize the information. 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.