Average salaries in the US plastics and packaging sectors fell by around 5% in 2015, according to a survey of nearly 1,300 plastics professionals across the country.
A poll conducted by Gros Executive recruiters and the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) found that average ‘cash compensation' dipped from $119,576 (£80,690) in 2014 to $113,588 (£76,650).
Speaking at a recent Plastics Financial Summit in the US, Dennis Gros, president of the firm that bears his name, said a degree of psychology could be behind the numbers survey participants reported this time around, with people feeling the pressure of rising prices amid static base salaries in recent years.
The survey asked participants to report their base salaries as well as any additional compensation such as bonuses and commissions
The average base salary in the new survey was $102,635 (£69,260), down about 2% from the previous survey.
Gros added: “I think it feels like the economic squeeze of expenses going up, bills going up and salaries and compensation being generally flat.
“Maybe incentives are less generous than previously because of economic conditions. It feels like employees are earning less. That's how it feels to them.
“I don't believe that salaries have actually been slashed by 2%,” he added. “It's either a statistical error or it's a psychological reaction. Or it's a different group of people who responded to our survey this year compared to last year.”
SPE managing director Russell Broome said: “We are starting to enter a high-retirement zone, and those individuals who would have taken the survey in previous years had much higher salaries than the young professionals coming in to replace them.
“You would assume that our survey respondents would have mimicked the industry.”
Broome also believed the Affordable Care Act, often called ‘Obamacare', also could have played a part in the numbers being reported.
“A lot of companies that were hit with higher costs for benefits rolled that down to the employees in one of two ways,” he said.
“Some made the employee take a compensation decrease to make up for the addition cost of benefits.”
The other way, Broome said, was that companies passed along those costs to employees directly. “So while your [gross] salary many not have changed, you would have higher deductions.”