Survey: West Slope wages going up

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Western Slope employers expect to increase average wages in 2019 by the largest proportional amount in more than a decade, according to the latest results of an annual compensation survey.

Pay raises are projected across Colorado next year as employers compete to recruit and retain workers, said Sue Wolf, director of surveys for the Employers Council. “It’s a tight labor market due to the very low unemployment rates.”

Western Slope employers participating in a survey conducted by the Employers Council projected an average pay increase of 3 percent for 2019. That’s the largest proportional increase since wages increased an average of 3.8 percent in 2008 and reflects what Wolf said has been a long recovery in the region in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Pay is expected to increase an average of 2.9 percent in 2018, slightly higher than the 2.8 percent gain in 2017. For 2018, Western Slope employers beat statewide averages for hourly wages paid to entry level employees in manufacturing, maintenance and material handling positions.

The Employers Council offers a variety of services to more than 4,000 employer members in Colorado as well as Arizona, Utah and Wyoming. The organization has conducted annual compensation surveys for 70 years to enable members to compare the wages they pay with the marketplace.

A total of 456 Colorado employers participated in the latest survey, 43 from the Western Slope and another 33 from resort areas in the state.

Wages are expected to continue to increase as labor demand outstrips supply, Wolf said. Projected pay increases for 2019 ranged from 3.2 percent in the Colorado Springs, Denver, Northern Colorado and resort areas to
2.5 percent in Pueblo. Employers in Fort Collins projected a 3.1 percent increase.

While 88 percent of the employers responding to the survey said projected pay increases constituted their best guesses,
11 percent said the projections were reasonably firm and 1 percent said increases already has been approved.

Meanwhile, a look back at turnover rates in 2016 and 2017 showed rates in Western Colorado were second only to the Denver and Boulder area — 19.3 percent in 2016 and 22.3 percent in 2017.