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American Society of Employers (ASE) Announces 2020/2021 Salary Budget Survey Findings

August 28, 2020

Livonia, Mich. —August 25, 2020 — The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, released its 2020/2021 Salary Budget Survey with a number that continues to stay the same: 3% – perhaps good news considering the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses.

171 Michigan employers participated in this year’s survey, and 57% have already determined and/or executed their 2020 salary adjustment programs. That figure plummets to just 8% for 2021; however, the majority of organizations (53%) have yet to actively discuss salary adjustment options and likely will not make a determination until the end of the fiscal year.

Of those employers who have determined what their 2020 programs will look like, only 54% have actually implemented salary adjustments, while 36% have decided to freeze wages. Excluding those organizations that have opted to freeze wages, the average increase looks surprisingly similar to past years and ranges from 2.8% to 3.3% with a median of 3.0%. 2021 projections are also showing signs of normalcy with standard merit increases ranging from 2.8% to 3.2% with a median of 3.0%.

Additional key findings in the 2020/2021 Salary Budget Survey:

Most employers do not anticipate making a decision regarding their 2021 salary adjustments for the next several months.

  • Within the next month – 5%
  • Within the next 3 months – 23%
  • Within the next 6 months – 17%
  • By the end of fiscal year – 32%
  • After the start of fiscal year – 9%

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, organizations have had:

  • Temporary layoffs affecting less than 50% of staff – 34%
  • Temporary layoffs affecting more than 50% of staff – 24%
  • Reduced staff hours – 37%
  • Pay reductions, base pay – 29%
  • Pay reductions, bonus/incentives – 18%

The average reduction in base pay was 18% and, that reduction was in effect on average for 17 weeks.

Most employers (86%) did not rescind any salary adjustments or variable compensation payouts that were previously provided this fiscal year. Only 10% of employers rescinded salary adjustments, and 6% of employers rescinded variable compensation payout.

The survey findings were announced by ASE President and CEO, Mary E. Corrado. “The pandemic has had a tremendous economic impact on organizations. In these difficult times, employers are making difficult decisions around rewards.  This is made more complex given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.”

Background information on the 2020/2021 Salary Budget Survey:

A total of 171 companies, 78% of them located in the metro Detroit region, responded to the survey, which was distributed to human resource professionals in late June 2020. Just over 44% of the respondents are classified as automotive suppliers.  77% of the organizations that responded have 1-500 employees. A variety of industries are represented, with Manufacturing organizations representing 56% of the survey sample.

To obtain a copy of ASE’s 2020/2021 Salary Budget Survey, contact the ASE Survey Team at This survey is available free of charge to ASE members, and for $525 to non-members.

About ASE
ASE is Michigan’s trusted HR partner.  ASE is a non-profit, membership organization – everything we do is based on the needs of members and to drive the success of their organizations.  ASE strengthens organization’s HR departments by offering member benefits and discounted services that span the entire employee lifecycle including recruitment, development, and retention while minimizing compliance risk. We provide our members guidance through new legislation and workplace issues such as those currently occurring with the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about ASE at

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