North Carolina Wage & Salary Survey 2020

Comprehensive analysis of North Carolina wages and salaries

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Capital Associated Industries, Inc.® and The Employers Association have released the results of their annual statewide Wage & Salary Survey.

Among the findings is a clear indication of the effects of COVID-19 but also the lengths to which employers are going to retain their employees. 73% of companies have given salary increases this year.  Half of companies reported base pay increases between 3-3.99% in 2020, with projections of 58% of companies giving increases in 2021. That’s compared to increases of 3-3.1%, which has been the statewide trend over the last five years. 

The results of our survey provide actionable data for North Carolina employers as they develop post-pandemic pay strategies,” said Molly Hegeman, VP, Membership & HR Services at Capital Associated Industries. “We’ve conducted this survey for decades and were in fact surprised to learn that so many employers are providing increases. This is a stark contrast to what we saw in the wake of the Great Recession - almost 50% of companies gave 0% increases in 2009.

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% and 3.6%, respectively in 2020. 

Participants in the survey represent a number of industries, with Manufacturing (Durable and Non-Durable Goods), Professional and Business Services, Health Services, Financial Services  and Education rounding out the top five. 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.” 

Other Key Findings

  • 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 most companies do intend to increase base salary pay next year, 26% have no plans to do so. That’s 3% higher than the 23% who did not provide pay increases at all in 2020, and 15% higher than 2019. 



Download your copy of the Wage & Salary Survey Results Infographic here