July 3, 2003
Wage and Benefits Survey of MEDC Chamber Professionals
The Center for Community and Economic Development has completed a survey of Chamber Professionals conducted in cooperation with the MEDC Chamber Development Committee. Surveys to characterize salaries, benefits, experience levels and other characteristics were mailed to 114 Chamber executives that represent communities across the state of Mississippi, both members of MEDC and nonmembers, and the findings are attached. First, the entire dataset was analyzed, then a subset of the data (based on the community’s population size) was studied separately.
In summary, there is no profile of a “typical” chamber executive or chamber organization. The variety in organization structure, funding, membership size, executive salary and benefits, and other criteria render this type of characterization difficult to impossible. As a result, this variety was addressed in the analysis. Because there are some large organizations that pay high salaries and have large memberships and budgets the averages of these measures will be skewed. Therefore, both medians and averages are reported in many cases, but the median should be considered more reliable as a measure of central tendency. The median is defined as the data point midway in the range, at which half of the data points are higher and half are lower in the range.
Many Chamber Executives and their organizations serve in more than one capacity as well, either Economic Development or other capacity. For this reason, in some cases it is difficult to distinguish the Chamber characteristics from Economic Development characteristics. Further study may be required to further delineate the Chamber characteristics, and also learn more about the organizations run by volunteers.
MEDC Wage and Benefit Survey Findings for the Entire Response Data Set
- A total of 114 surveys were mailed and 54 survey responses were received for a response rate of 47 percent.
- Over 70 percent of the responses received (38 of 54 responses) reported having the title of Executive Director or Director. Other reported titles included Vice President, President/CEO, and Manager.
- Nine respondents reported having one or more professional certifications, primarily from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute.
- Reported salaries ranged from none, for six volunteer Chamber Executives, to $90,000 per year in a continuous distribution (no outliers, as shown in the chart). The average salary for all respondents was $35,000 and the median salary was $28,000. The average salary excluding the volunteers is $39,000 and the median excluding volunteers is $33,000. Two respondents did not provide salary information. This large range is partially due to the range of community sizes, and partially due to the fact that some of the Chamber executives also function as Economic Developers, while some do not.
- Twenty-four respondents did receive a raise this fiscal year, and the increase averaged 5.9 percent.
- The reported workweek length averaged 44 hours per week for all respondents, including volunteers. The volunteer Chamber Executives reported working an average of 29 hours per week.
- Reported experience levels ranged from none to 31 years, and the average experience level is 9 years.
- Fifty respondents reported their gender, 33 of whom were female and 17 of whom were male.
- Thirty-four of 54 respondents (63 percent) reported having achieved at least a 4-year college degree, and 19 respondents (35 percent) reported a high school diploma, associate degree, or some college.
- Forty-five of 54 respondents (83 percent) reported being part of a Chamber, and the remaining respondents reported being part of an Economic Development partnership or organization.
- The areas represented by chamber organizations range from low-population rural areas (700) to highly populated urban areas (440,000).
- The number of organization members ranged from zero to 1500. The average number of members, which is skewed as in previous calculations by a few large organizations, is 303 members and the median is 195 members.
- Operating budgets ranged from $3,000 to nearly $2 million. The median budget is $100,000 and the average is $184,000. Reported membership income ranged from $0 to $1.1 million. Because organizations’ funding is structured in widely varying ways, the percentage of the total budget comprised by membership income ranges from none to 100 percent. On average, the percentage of total budgets comprised by membership income is 37 percent. Further study of funding issues is recommended prior to drawing detailed conclusions because of the many roles that Chamber Executives and their organizations can play.
- The responses indicate that some organizations consider their base membership fee to be their business rate, while other organizations consider their base membership fee to be their individual rate. Still other organizations calculate their membership fees based on the number of employees or age of the individuals. For the purpose of this study, the base membership rate was assumed to be the basic business or small business rate, and the median base membership rate was $125 per year. The median individual membership rate, for those organizations providing that information, was $30 per year.
- The most frequently reported benefits include vacation days (36 respondents), paid holidays (34 respondents) paid sick days (27 respondents), and hospitalization/intensive care/basic health insurance (25 respondents). The average number of vacation days provided is 14. The least frequently reported benefits, of the choices listed, are vision insurance and cancer insurance.
- Eighteen respondents (33 percent) reported that their employer does provide a retirement plan, and the most widely-reported plan was 401(k) (7 respondents) and IRA (6 respondents).
- On average, respondents were generally satisfied with their salary and benefits package. The median response was seven out of ten.
- The technologies reported as being frequently used include computer, having a membership database on computer, accessing the internet, using a website, sending email, sending broadcast email to membership, and mailing a printed newsletter. In addition, Chamber Executives estimate that, on average, 55 percent of their membership has access to the internet.
Findings for Chamber Executives in a Subset of Communities
- There were 28 communities that fall within the population range of 15,001-45,000 that were selected for further study.
- Reported experience levels for Chamber Executives in these communities ranged from one to 18 years, and the average experience level is 8.5 years.
- Reported salaries for these Chamber Executives ranged from $11,500 to $88,000 per year. The average salary was $44,000 and the median salary was $36,300.
- The reported workweek length for this group averaged 46 hours per week.
- The number of organization members for these organizations ranged from zero to 700 members. The average number of members is 301 and the median is 233.
- Operating budgets ranged from $25,000 to $643,000. The median budget is $161,000 and the average is $183,000. Reported membership income ranged from $0 to $239,000, and the percentage of the total budget comprised by membership income ranges from zero to 93 percent. On average, the percentage of total budgets comprised by membership income is 40 percent.
- The median base membership rate for these organizations was $145 per year. The median individual membership rate, for the organizations providing that information, was $30 per year.