The 2018 NBMDA Cross-Industry Compensation and Benefits Report is Now Available

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How Does Your Compensation Package Measure Against Other Distributors?

NBMDA has partnered with Industry Insights, a firm that specializes in providing high-quality survey research for associations, along with over twenty-five leading distributor-oriented associations to deliver the 2018 Cross-Industry Compensation and Benefits Study. The report includes robust data to benchmark including the ability to drill-down geographically to see if your firm is competitive in your market. The 2018 report is now available for purchase. 

Download the 2018 Cross-Industry Compensation Survey flyer to learn more.

What Does the 2018 Report Provide?

The 2018 Cross-Industry Compensation & Benefits Survey report provides a detailed analysis of key compensation and benefits related statistics for the distribution industry. The results are based on confidential surveys from 1,037 distribution companies, representing nearly 9,500 locations.

The survey was compiled, tabulated and analyzed by Industry Insights, Inc. (, an independent professional research and analytics firm that specializes in conducting compensation studies for associations.

The 2018 Cross-Industry Compensation & Benefits Survey represents the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date compensation and benefits data available. This report is designed to allow users to easily compare compensation levels and benefits policies with companies involved in wholesale trade/distribution.

In addition to data on recruiting & retention; health care costs/trends; retirement benefits; vacations/PTO and holidays; sick and other leave; and sales practices, this report contains compensation-related statistics for common job titles in the industry.

These job titles include positions in the following categories:

  • Executive Level Positions
  • General & Administrative
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Operations/Warehouse
  • Information Technology

Enhanced Value for Distributors

Value for distributors that contribute their data to the study include:

  • Company-Specific Compensation Report — A confidential, individualized report of a participant's own data shown alongside the appropriate comparatives. This represents an important incentive to participate in the study providing participants with a useful managerial tool for identifying compensation levels that may be too high or too low as well as the strength of your benefit packages.

  • NBMDA members who completed the survey receive free access to the compensation report. Note: nonparticipant members may purchase the report for $500 and non-members may purchase for $1,000.

Executive Summary Highlights

The Economy

Before analyzing compensation information for any industry, it is important to understand the performance of the overall economy. This section of the report will examine several indicators which are typically correlated with compensation levels and their corresponding trends. These indicators provide sound information and their projections for 2018 will serve as a good gauge for compensation estimates moving forward.

Steady Economic Growth

In the post-recession era, the U.S. economy has continued to show steady economic growth. The real GDP has been trending positive each of the past eight years with 2017 seeing growth of 2.3%. Companies continue to gain confidence as the economic expansion continues which has led to hiring increases and upward pressure on

compensation levels. Looking forward, real GDP growth is forecasted to be 2.7% in 2018, which if holds true, will be the second highest growth rate in over 10 years. This forecasted growth should translate into additional increases in both compensation levels and employment levels. Additionally, the new tax reform has led to reinvestment into companies, increased hiring, bonuses, and additional savings for the workforce. However, uncertainty still exists with exactly how companies will reinvest the tax savings and whether the majority will be taken as profits, stock buybacks, go to capital expenditures, or reinvested in other areas.

Salary Budgets Inch Higher

Across all industries, salary budget increases in 2017 remained at 3% in the United States. There has been little variation over the past six years, with increases in 2011–2017 all hovering around the 3% mark. In 2018, companies across the United States are projecting similar salary budget increases with early projections indicating increases will be just over 3%. This is also in line with the median response of 3.0% increases forecasted for 2018 by all responding firms in the survey.

Inflation Increases

Continued increases in salary budgets is advantageous for employees. However, in order to identify the true buying power differential of these increases, inflation needs to be considered. U.S. inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has been relatively passive over the past ten years due to modest economic growth and lower commodity prices. Inflation grew by 2.1% in 2017 and is expected to continue to grow by 2.4% in 2018.

Unemployment Rate Drops

Unemployment rates can have a substantial impact on compensation levels. As unemployment levels decrease, the talent pool gets smaller and wages tend to rise. Unemployment in the United States peaked at 10% in October 2009. Since that time, it has seen steady declines over the past seven years. The unemployment rate in

2010 was 9.6% and has fallen to an average of 4.4% in 2017. Forecasts for 2018 project an unemployment rate of 3.8% which, if it holds true, will be the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.

Turnover Rates Trending Upward

Currently, the economy is experiencing both low unemployment rates and a surplus of job openings. When this occurs the competition for talent increases resulting in higher employee turnover rates and increased compensation levels. The turnover rate for employees was 3.6% in 2017; the highest it has been in the past ten years. Looking ahead to 2018, it is forecasted that the turnover rate will remain at 3.6% as new jobs continue to be created and unemployment continues to trend downward.

Respondents in the 2018 Cross-Industry Compensation & Benefits Survey reported average turnover and quit rates in the double digits for non-management employees. Competition for quality employees will surely be of utmost importance through 2018 and into 2019.


The overall economy remained steady in 2017. Forecasts for the GDP, inflation, and unemployment are all favorable for 2018. The U.S. dollar continues to be strong and interest rates remain historically low; however, it is expected that interest rates will again be raised multiple times by the Federal Reserve during 2018. Additionally, consumer confidence continues to rise, which will likely lead to more spending, increased sales, and economic expansion. This economic growth will likely result in increased employment and compensation levels.