Congress approves minimum wage increase
by Krista Reisdorf
After lengthy delays caused by battles between Republicans and Democrats, Congress passed an Iraq spending bill on May 24 that included the first federal minimum wage increase in almost 10 years. The minimum wage provision of the bill raises the minimum wage by $2.10 during the next two years.
"This is a great day for America's middle class," says Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. "America's workers have been waiting for a raise for a long time."
Democrats attached the minimum wage provision to the $120 billion Iraq war spending bill, which was vetoed by the White House on May 1 because Democrats required a pullout date for U.S. troops. However, the bill was rewritten and passed, raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85 this summer, $6.55 during the summer of 2008 and $7.25 during the summer of 2009.
As a result of this increase, a person working 40 hours a week and earning the minimum wage will go from making about $10,700 per year to slightly more than $15,000 per year after the full increase.
To make the bill more appealing to Republicans, Democrats added $4.84 billion in tax relief for small businesses to offset costs associated with the increase and help them hire new workers. Although provisions in the "must pass" Iraq war spending bill were approved, Republicans are still voicing their discontent regarding the bill and the proposed tax cuts, saying it is not an ideal package.
"We pushed for and very much prefer that it be paired with appropriate offsets for small businesses who would be disproportionately affected by the minimum wage increase," says Tony Fratto, White House spokesman. "Unfortunately, the offsets in this bill don't accomplish that."
Others aren't happy with the bill's possible effects on jobs. According to the National Restaurant Association, the previous minimum wage increase caused a loss of more than 146,000 jobs in the restaurant industry, and restaurant owners delayed plans to hire 106,000 employees.
"A minimum wage increase will cost our industry jobs, and the vital discussion of how to minimize this job loss is getting lost in the debate," says Peter Kilgore, the association's acting interim president and chief executive officer.
During the past 10 years, inflation has lowered the minimum wage's value to its lowest level in more that 50 years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 1.7 million workers (2 percent of the hourly work force) were earning $5.15 per hour or less last year. Democrats say the minimum wage provisions will raise the incomes of about 13 million workers.
The measure offers various provisions, including allowing small businesses to quickly deduct $112,000 for equipment purchases and raise the deduction amount to $125,000; allowing married couples who operate unincorporated businesses to file as sole proprietorships; and offering tax incentives for rebuilding areas of the Gulf Coast damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The increase will take effect about 60 days from when the bill was passed.
Salary and benefits: How does your company compare?
by Krista Reisdorf
NRCA has released the results of The 2006 NRCA Salary and Benefits Survey, which was compiled from mailings to about 3,500 roofing contractor members. NRCA received 199 responses; the individual figures reported in the survey were tallied by NRCA and are averages of all responses to any given question.
The survey results provide information about wages; salaries; bonuses; insurance coverage; and paid holidays, vacation days and sick leave. The results were divided into four groups: a summary, by sales volume, by geographical location and a historical comparison with the 2000 survey results. No surveys occurred between 2000 and 2006.
According to survey results, 61 percent of the responding companies are open-shop; 14 percent are union; and 4 percent are dual-shop. The average number of employees per company was 44, and the average net sales volume was more than $6 millionan increase from $3.9 million in 2000.
In addition, the 2006 survey reports that employees logged an average of 68,510 annual labor hours, up from 56,186 in 2000.
According to the 2006 survey, average salaries in all categoriesfrom helpers to presidentsincreased since the 2000 survey.
Presidents had the highest average salaries at $111,438 compared with $89,581 in 2000. Sheet-metal service technicians had the lowest average salaries at $22,674 (no previous data was available).
Other categories included project managers, whose average salary rose from $51,498 to $59,339 since 2000, and foremen, whose average salary rose from $40,301 to $47,184 since 2000.
In the field workers category, general superintendents earned the highest average hourly rate at $26.06, and helpers had the lowest average hourly rate at $12.93.
Companies with higher sales volumes tended to have higher salaries. In addition, the Mountain region (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) had the highest annual average net sales of respondents' companies at almost $9 million, and the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee) had the lowest annual average net sales at about $3.8 million.
With regard to health insurance coverage, 83 percent of respondents' companies offer health insurance programs to their office employees; 71 percent offer health insurance programs to their field employees; and 60 percent offer health insurance programs to dependents.
Additionally, 42 percent of companies paid 100 percent of health insurance coverage for office employees and 30 percent paid 100 percent of health insurance coverage for field workers.
Fifty-nine percent of companies offered office employees paid sick leave days, which averaged about seven days. Forty-four percent of companies offered superintendents and project managers paid sick leave days, with an average of six days, and 19 percent offered foremen paid sick leave days, with an average of five days.
Ninety percent of companies offered paid holidays to office employees; 79 percent offered paid holidays to superintendents and project managers; and 55 percent offered paid holidays to foremen, all with an average of six days.
Regarding paid vacation time, 83 percent of companies offered paid vacation to office employees; 75 percent offered paid vacation to superintendents and project managers; and 60 percent offered paid vacation to foremen.
The information in The 2006 NRCA Salary and Benefits Survey can be helpful if you want to compare your company's salaries and benefits with others in the roofing industry. However, keep in mind the survey may not represent the total population.
For a copy of The 2006 NRCA Salary and Benefits Survey, visit shop.nrca.net or call NRCA InfoExpress at (866) ASK-NRCA (275-6722).
This Web exclusive information is a supplement to An ounce of prevention.