2005 Salary Survey reveals growth in wages and hiring

NEW YORK: PR salaries are once again on the upswing after years of cutbacks and stagnant wages, according to the 2005 PRWeek-Korn/Ferry Salary Survey.

NEW YORK: PR salaries are once again on the upswing after years of cutbacks and stagnant wages, according to the 2005 PRWeek-Korn/Ferry Salary Survey.

Last year, the average salary for PR professionals rose 7.1% to $87,461, up from $81,594 a year earlier.

Agencies and corporations alike report that they are hiring as improving business creates greater demand. Cities hit hardest by the bursting of the tech bubble, such as San Francisco, are seeing some of the strongest rebounds, although the high cost of living in those areas makes recruiting more difficult.

"There is a very strong demand at the high end as well as the middle level, and we don't see that slowing down," said Nels Olson, practice leader of external affairs at Korn/Ferry International. "This has been the busiest year in the communications area for [some time]."

"Cash flow is back, and money is flowing," said Don Spetner, CMO of Korn/Ferry. "There is a real sense of optimism. Companies are willing to spend. There is a huge increase in demand for corporate communications."

The survey polled 1,864 professionals in the industry. The average respondent had almost 12 years in the business, and more than a third (36.9%) worked in an agency.

Despite the news about rising salaries, the survey also found that women and minorities are still paid less than others. The average male reported an annual income of $107,960. The average woman said she made only $75,498.

While the discrepancy is disturbing, some experts suggested it might not be entirely attributable to bias. Many women, for example, take time out from career for families, leaving them at lower pay levels than male counterparts when they return.

Minorities fell behind Caucasians in pay. While the average Caucasian respondent reported a salary of $90,056, the average black practitioner reported only $67,223. Hispanics did a bit better, earning an average $75,622, while Asians made just $62,227.

"The communities of color are not typically getting the pay because they don't have anyone who preceded them, so they typically start off in a lower-level position," said Bill Imada, head of LA-based IW Group. "And because they can't find a role model in the agency, they leave."

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