How do wages, benefits in Clark, Champaign compare to other counties?

A recent wage and benefit study conducted in Clark and Champaign counties is providing participating businesses with more information about whether they are competitive in their fields.

Similar studies have been conducted in the past, but the project completed last year was the first time when five local counties pooled resources and shared information for the report. Along with Clark and Champaign counties, businesses from Madison, Logan and Union counties also took part in the survey.

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That’s important as workers are often willing to travel for better opportunities, said Amy Donahoe, director of workforce development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

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“People are willing to travel for good-paying opportunities,” Donahoe said. “We wanted to make sure that we’re looking at the labor pool beyond our county because our employers are competing with other employers in the region as well.”

About 100 Clark County businesses have completed the survey in past years, Donahoe said, but working with other counties will provide a more extensive view of what’s happening throughout the region.

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Information on wages was provided from data compiled by the Dayton Development Coalition. The report provides a broad perspective on pay scales and benefits across industries, so it’s often difficult to compare specific positions across the counties, she said.

Participation in the survey also varies depending on the employer and county. The results were anonymous and didn’t show what individual companies were paying. Businesses from Logan and Madison counties each made up 4 percent of the sample.

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“When I try to compare data, sometimes it’s a little bit hard when some of the counties only had a handful of businesses participate,” Donahoe said.

More than 160 companies in the five counties participated, with Clark County providing the greatest number of participants. Manufacturing firms represented about 30 percent of the responses.

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In general, Donahoe said the study showed employers are more often using benefits to retain workers. In general, she said wages are helpful to attract employees, while benefits are important for retention. Companies are increasingly looking for ways to be more creative to offer health-care coverage, Donahoe said.

“It’s a lot of people trying to figure out what others are doing and a lot of bench-marking in order to make sure they are one of the more competitive companies in the area,” she said.

In Champaign County, the report showed manufacturing firms generally are competitive with those in the neighboring counties, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership.

That information is useful, she said, because it can be used to show workers they don’t necessarily have to commute outside Champaign County for good wages.

“As a rule we’re pretty good on the wages for our manufacturing environment,” Bailey said.

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