By Eleanor Kennedy
The Lynchburg area’s public-sector employees have waited as long as five years for salary increases, but that’s one economic challenge that many private-sector employees have been able to avoid.
“Salary increases … seemed to stay fairly consistent,” said Gary Campbell, director of public relations for the Central Virginia chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, which has approximately 80 companies represented in its membership.
Companies tightened their belts in other ways during the lean years of the recession, Campbell said, enacting hiring freezes and shifting work from direct employees to cheaper contingency, contract or temporary employees.
“Organizations kept their merit-based increases, but they didn’t add a lot to the workforce,” he said.
According to the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Regional Compensation Survey, conducted by the Titan Group of Richmond, compensation increases averaged about 2.5 percent for Lynchburg’s salaried workers in 2012 and 2.3 percent for hourly workers.
Although the survey only included responses from 28 of the region’s businesses, its findings are consistent with Lynchburg’s two largest employers.
Centra budgets for annual merit-based pay increases “based on the performance of the individual,” Jan Walker, vice president for human resources, said in an e-mail. Those increases generally average between 2 and 2.5 percent.
At Liberty University, employees have received an annual increase of 3 percent or more for the past 10 years, according to a statement from
Executive Vice President Laura Wallace. That number did drop to a 2.4 percent increase in 2010, Wallace said, the only time the university had to alter its policy.
Many companies do not share human resources information publicly. Other Lynchburg employers contacted for this story, including Babcock & Wilcox, Areva and Banker Steel, declined to provide salary information.
Workers who have not received salary increases over the past five years, whether in the private or public sector, have had to make their wages go further, thanks to rising costs of gas, groceries and other miscellaneous goods.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index, a measurement of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for consumer goods and services, has risen 6.6 percent since 2008.