Staff at US agencies are smaller in number than last year and face lower pay rises than usual, according to the 11th annual Salary Survey by Advertising Age.

The study, which polled 228 shops, found that the workforce of the average agency has declined by 8.5% since last year to 28.3. Around 41% of firms in the survey reduced staff in 2002, with 28% maintaining last year’s levels and 31% raising them.

Remaining employees face rises for next year of between 3% and 4% in most positions, if they get one at all. Between 23% and 37% of shops will not raise wages for ten of the eleven posts listed in the survey, while for the eleventh – chief executive – 51% will freeze pay.

Such findings reflect the fact that gross income for 2002 is down at 46% of agencies, worse than the 42% reported last year.

However, there is widespread optimism about prospects for the new year. Around 74% of respondents believe incomes will rise in 2003, with 39% of this group forecasting growth of 10% or more. Only 11% of the total believe incomes will fall.

Moreover, 76% believe that next year’s expansion will be driven by new business rather than by squeezing more out of existing clients.

As a result of such growth, 62% of agencies expect to take on additional staff in 2003, up from the 47% making this prediction in last year’s survey.

Full details can be downloaded at the AdAge website.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff