American Society of Employers (ASE) Releases 2017 Compensation Survey Results

Incentive Compensation on the Rise

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, released the organization’s 2017 Compensation Survey today. It’s the 65th year that ASE has published the annual survey.  The findings were released by Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE.

“Despite improvements in the economy, notably the reduction in the unemployment rate, employers seem to be taking a more conservative approach and are holding steady at 3% pay raises,”  stated Corrado.  “Our data suggests that employers may be relying on other forms of compensation, specifically incentive compensation, to reward employees; therefore, maintaining minimal long-term financial risk.”

A total of 357 companies, 57% of them located in the metro Detroit region, responded to the survey, which was distributed to human resource professionals via an online survey in January 2017. Nearly two thirds (59%) of the respondents are classified as non-automotive suppliers.

2017 ASE compensation survey highlights:

  • Merit budgets remain at the 3.0% level, a figure that has remained constant in ASE’s last several annual salary survey reports.
  • Among companies who reported data in both 2016 and 2017, actual salaries increased 2.85% year-over-year.  Further analysis of the data shows that salary movement ranged from as low as 2.5% for Office, Clerical and Technical classifications to as much as 2.9% for Supervisory, Managerial and Professional classifications.
  • Variable pay as a percent of base pay shows significant growth at higher salary levels. Employees that are eligible for variable compensation could reasonably expect short-term incentives of approximately 7.8%, 9.4%, 14.9% and 37% for the following pay levels: $50,000 to $75,000; $75,000 to $100,000; $100,000 to $150,000; and more than $150,000 respectively.  For the pay ranges between $50,000 and $150,000 this shows an average increase of 1.67% over 2016, but for salaries over $150,000 an increase of 11.3% from 2016 was seen. 

2017 ASE compensation survey findings on specific position classifications:

  • Several Engineering fields witnessed average wage increases of 3.5% and higher, with Mechanical Engineering at 4.4% and Industrial Engineering at 3.58%.  These are slightly lower than seen in 2016.
  • Entry and Lead/Sr. engineering roles’ average wage increases (3.7%) are growing at a faster rate than middle level roles (2.1%).
  • Plant management roles are seeing a 1.2% increase in wages compared to only .7% last year.
  • The largest wage increases were seen in HR roles. Human Resource positions as a whole saw an average increase of 4.7%.  More technical compensation roles saw increases ranging from 6.1% to as high as 9.8%.

To obtain a copy of the 2017 Compensation Survey, contact Kevin Marrs, Vice President at ASE, 248-223-8025 or

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization

The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at