2019 Charleston Metro Area

Compensation and Benefits Practices Survey

Staying Competitive in a High-Demand Labor Market

In today’s high-demand labor market, employers in the Charleston Metro are increasingly exploring ways in which they can provide competitive compensation packages to attract and retain their employees. Increasingly, it is the combination of wages and benefits, rather than wages alone, that determines a company’s ability to recruit workers and reduce turnover. Wage growth has begun to occur, but employers remain cautious and some choose to increase or diversify benefits offerings in lieu of increasing wages.

The objective of this study is to provide information on compensation practices of firms operating in the three-county region to help companies evaluate their own organization’s compensation practices more effectively and assist in creating a benchmark analysis to use for strategic planning purposes.

Key Findings

  • Benefits packages grew more robust over prior years, with manufacturers leading the way. Hourly positions in manufacturing are being offered shorter insurance coverage waiting periods than their non-manufacturing counterparts.
  • Paid time away from the office continues to be a prime compensation offering, and employers are steadily increasing Paid Time Off (PTO) days and awarding them earlier than in prior years. Since 2013, the median number of PTO days earned after just six months’ service has increased five days.
  • In finding qualified talent, employers are still concerned about soft skills—manufacturers cite it as the most critical skill (71%) followed by technical skills (61%.) Employers from all sectors are struggling with too few applicants for many open positions.

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This report is a result of a survey of benefit and compensation practices among employers in the three county Charleston Metro Area (Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties). The study was open to all types of business establishments — all sizes and all business sectors. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Business Research conducted the survey in spring of 2019, with March 1 as the benchmark for responses.

Center for Business Research

The Center for Business Research, founded in 1990 by the Charleston Metro Chamber, compiles, analyzes and distributes economic and demographic information on the Charleston region. The Center has been conducting wage and benefits related surveys since 1997. Though study participants differ each time the survey is conducted, significant shifts in reported policies and practices over time can be indicative of real-time trends in local employer practices.