The green industry holds its own in a period of slow growth and uncertainty about critical legislative matters.

An American Nurseryman Report

Amid the rumblings of a renewed minimum wage debate and the possible delay-yet again-of legislative action on immigration reform, the day-to-day work of the green industry goes on. Couple those challenges with the task of navigating the Affordable Care Act, and these hot-button issues have the potential to dramatically affect wages and benefits. We’re not likely to see the impact for a while, depending on how long we have to wait for Congress to act and for newly enacted legislation to gain its momentum.

In the meantime, we’ll take a look at what happened with 2013’s compensation trends. As usual, not much has changed; although there were a few reversals, the overall “cautious optimism” seems to have won the day.

In what region is your company based?

This year’s survey drew responses from across the country, with a slight majority of participants located in the Southeast (35.5%), followed closely by the Midwest/ North Central region (33.9%).

Northeast (CT, DE, MA, ME, NH, NY, NJ, PA, RI, VT)

Southeast (AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)

Midwest/N. Central (IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI, ID, CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, SD, UT, WY)

Southwest/West (AZ, NM, NV, OK, TX, AK, CA, HI, OR, WA)

What was your company’s estimated total sales volume in 2013?

Total sales volume for 2013 showed some interesting changes from last year’s figures, including an increase in the percentage of companies pulling in $1.5 million to $4.9 million-moving the majority of responses up slightly from last year. However, there was a significant increase in the percentage of companies at the lower end of the scale, rising to 12.9% percent in 2013 from 9.3% in 2012’s figures. Conversely, those at the top of the heap-realizing $10 million and up-shrank to 1.6% from 8.0%.

What percentage of your 2013 gross sales went to wages?

Overall, the percentage of gross sales spent on wages continued its typical bell curve, with the majority of respondents reporting in at 30% to 39%. The most significant difference in this year’s report is a slight change in those devoting 50% or more to wages, rising to 8.1% of respondents, vs. last year’s 5.3%

Compared to 2012, did your company’s wages increase or decrease:

Steady as she goes: Companies continued to report increases in wages paid, with very little change from last year’s report. A majority of 62.9% reported increasing wages, with 32.3% reporting stable figures and only 4.8% experiencing a decrease.

On average, by what percent did they increase?

The overwhelming majority of responding companies reported 2013 wage increases of 1% to 5%, nearly mirroring last year’s figures. A slight difference is seen, however, in the percentage of higher- end increases, with 7.7% reporting a rise of 16% or more, vs. last year’s 4.8%.

On average, by what percent did they decrease?

In a rather dramatic reversal from last year’s responses, those reporting a 6% to 10% decrease in 2013 wages rose to 66.7% from 20% in 2012. Decreases in the 1% to 5% range dropped to 33.3% from 2012’s reported 60.0%.

What was the average hourly wage?

The majority of average hourly wages for full-time personnel remained within the $12 to $15 range, although we saw a significant increase in the percentage of those earning a bit less (33.3% earning $10 to $12) over last year’s 19.6%). The trend was similar for part-time and seasonal workers, with an increase in lower-bracket wages.

How were salespeople compensated?

Sales personnel are compensated in a number of ways, with hourly wages (29.8%) and annual salary (26.2%) being the most popular, according to respondents. This year’s responses included no draw against commission, but showed a nearly threefold increase in the percentage of sales staff earning commission only-from 5.1% in 2012 to 14.0% in 2013.

What was the average annual salary in 2013 for:

Please indicate which of the following benefits are available: