Feature Article - July 2011
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Money & Happiness

Our Fourth Annual Salary Survey

By Emily Tipping

By some measures, we are standing firmly in economic recovery territory. But at the same time, job growth has been challenged on an ongoing basis, and wages, generally speaking, have essentially stagnated. It is in this economic climate that we turn our sights once again to the results of our annual Salary Survey.

Before we dig into the numbers, consider this. In May (the most recent month for which numbers have been released as of this writing), employers added a net gain of just 54,000 jobs (compared to 220,000 per month on average for the previous three months). And, according to the Labor Department, while the unemployment rate fell in 24 states, it rose in 13 and was flat in another 13, with the national rate rising slightly to 9.1 percent.

At the same time, states, counties and city government agencies are about to feel the effects of the loss of federal stimulus funding. While fiscal conditions at the state level have improved in 2011, the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) reports, "…as states entire fiscal 2012 they face the wind down of significant funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)." The NASBO added that state revenues are also feeling the impact of continued high unemployment and reduced consumer spending, while the demand for healthcare and social services is still high. "As such," the NASBO states, "even after an improvement over one of the worst time periods in state fiscal conditions since the Great Depression, fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013 should present states with tough budget choices."

This is not good news for state and local governments that have already cut back severely. And the fallout from many of these cuts is felt by professionals employed in a wide variety of careers, from teachers and coaches in the schools to park district administrators. What's more, the continuing economic challenges affect donations to nonprofits, which affects TMCAs and others, as well as household budgets, meaning many have fewer dollars to spend on recreation, sports and fitness.

Despite all of this, respondents to our annual salary survey questionnaire continue to be relatively optimistic regarding their salaries (despite the fact that the average salary actually dropped in 2011 from 2010), and their job satisfaction levels rang in higher this year than last.

Survey Methodology

This report is based on a survey conducted for Recreation Management by Signet Research Inc., an independent research company. An e-mail was broadcast and respondents were invited to participate on the Web site. From the launch of the survey on Feb. 10, 2011 to the closing of the survey on March 1, 2,025 returns were received. The findings of this survey may be accepted as accurate, at a 95 percent confidence level, within a sampling tolerance of approximately +/- 2.2 percent.