2009 Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey - Food Processors are Happier, Wealthier

Despite the economic upheaval, our third annual Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey shows an increase in pay while satisfaction holds steady.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

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Sixty-nine percent supervise at least somebody.

Across all the job categories, salaries create a pretty typical bell curve. They start angling upward at the $36,000-50,000 category, dip slightly at $86,000-100,000 then peak, in number of respondents, at $101,000-200,000 (26 percent of all responses). Salaries drop off precipitously then, with only 65 people making more than $200K … although four of you make somewhere above $501,000. 

Food Processors Hours Worked

It’s when you start cross-tabulating one question, one demographic, with another that interesting facts emerge:

  • The most dissatisfied group was the 50-64-year-olds: 7.5 percent were very dissatisfied and 14 percent were somewhat dissatisfied, far more than any other age group.
  • Not surprising: Job satisfaction increased with pay.
  • Men ($108,713) out-earn women ($80,598).
  • Salary increases with age, even past age 65. Those under 29 average $55,277; 30-39-year-olds make $87,240; 40-49-year-olds earn $101,991; 50-64-year-olds average $108,020; and the 65-plus crowd makes $113,861 (although that one old guy earning over $501,000 may throw off this measure).

But how do you feel?

Hours on the job are up. Fifty-five percent of you work 41-50 hours a week, and 22 percent put in 51-60. Another 5.4 percent log more than 61 hours a week. But only 10 percent of our respondents are paid overtime.

So it’s pretty apparent job stress is up … although we don’t ask that quantitatively.

We did ask how has the economy affected your company. We expected the negative stories, and there were many:

  • "The banks have frozen credit, which has literally halted customer purchase orders,” wrote one. “[It’s] like taking a Marine’s weapon away and sending him into battle.”
  • "Employees furloughed; spending freeze; no raises.”
  • "Our company is closing one of its plants to consolidate overhead. It makes economic sense to stay competitive, but many of us are losing our jobs unless we relocate to the other side of the country.”
  • “They’ve asked our group to take a 10 percent salary cut.”
  • “A lot of the benefits have been reduced. No more 401(k) match. Raises have been suspended indefinitely. Cost of living adjustments also been suspended indefinitely. No hiring can take place, even when a line is only 43 percent staffed. We can barely run the plant because of cost cutting initiatives. We don't have a water jug anymore or plastic cutlery in the breakroom.”
  • Education Level Completed
    “Salaries on hold. Crash and burn projects and business objectives. Much tighter scrutiny.”
  • “There’s more work for the consultants.”

But about every 10th one was a positive comment:

  • “More people staying at home and eating, so our business is up significantly.”
  • “Increased demand for peanut butter, so our sales are up.”
  • “Selling more candy than we can make, so adding shifts.”

Although the quotes are fascinating, the numbers don’t paint so gloomy a picture. We asked these questions consecutively: “If you’re dissatisfied, list your specific gripes”; and “If satisfied, list your specific praises.” In all, 201 answered the dissatisfied question, 451 the satisfied one. 

“I have a great boss; he leaves me alone, but is there when I need him,” wrote a 50-64-year-old in R&D at a very large multinational. “My job is challenging and stimulating -- there is always so much to learn, even though I have been in the food industry 30+ years. The learning never stops. Walk the aisles of a supermarket, watch people, [you’ll] see things that you may never have seen before (and you can't learn everything from the web...sorry).”

Ironically, the guy also checked the box “very dissatisfied.”

“I’m lucky enough to be able to do what I like to do and what I’m gifted with,” says a marketing and sales executive at another large multinational. “I enjoy going into work everyday. It is hard work with many challenges, but meeting those challenges is where the satisfaction comes."

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