Salary Survey: COVID-19 report

Author Dennis Spaeth
August 04, 2020 - 11:00am

Although the pandemic continues to cloud the worldwide economic future, results from Cutting Tool Engineering’s 2020 Benefits and Salary Survey reveal a silver lining for manufacturers: Nearly 80% of respondents said their companies were considered essential businesses and remained open during lockdowns in spring.

Of the 277 respondents who completed the COVID-19 addendum to CTE’s biennial salary survey, 219 said their companies remained open for business. Among the companies that remained open, 68% were fully open while the rest were open on a limited basis.

Asked how current production compared with the workload prior to the pandemic, almost half reported a 40% to 80% drop while a fifth said business was down 20%. A quarter of respondents said business was about the same.

If your company remains open, indicate how your current production compares with your workload prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Unfortunately, 46% of respondents said the pandemic had triggered layoffs or furloughs at their companies.

Beyond the overall results, analyzing the data according to certain demographics reveals a tougher time for tool, mold and die shops, as well as for businesses with fewer than 20 employees or for those located in the West.

Broken out by company size, company type and region, the following results highlight the most significant differences from CTE’s nationwide data.

Company Size

  • Among companies that employ up to 19 people, 73% remained open in May while nearly 60% reported a drop in business between 40% and 80%.
  • Among companies that employ 20 to 99 people, 61% said they were fully open.
  • Among companies with 100 or more employees, over 53% said the pandemic had triggered layoffs or furloughs.

Company Type

  • Among machine shops, 90% remained open in May and just over a third had laid off or furloughed employees.
  • Among metalworking suppliers, nearly 88% remained open in May. Of those, 94% said they were fully open. Just 31% reported layoffs or furloughs.
  • Among general manufacturers, 73% remained open in May, but more than 54% said they had to lay off or furlough employees.
  • Among tool, mold and die shops, 59% remained open in May and 69% said they had to lay off or furlough employees.

Company Location

  •  Among companies in the Midwest, 85% said they remained open in May.
  • Among companies in the West, 66% remained open in May. Of those, 62% were fully open. Nearly 58% of these companies had undergone layoffs or furloughs.
  • Among companies in the East, 75% remained open in May, but nearly 52% said the pandemic triggered layoffs or furloughs.
  • Among companies in the Mountain region, 36% said they had to lay off or furlough employees.
  • Among companies in the South, 41% reported layoffs or furloughs.

Further analysis of pandemic-related responses by two types of survey data collectors also reveals significant differences from the overall results.

CTE normally would use only one type of data collection via SurveyMonkey — a web-based survey service — because participation in the biennial salary survey usually is limited to industry professionals who subscribe to CTE’s print and digital media. This year, in an effort to collect as many respondents as possible despite the limitations presented by COVID-19, CTE utilized a paid data collection option whereby SurveyMonkey targeted its own survey panels of manufacturing professionals.

The following results highlight the most substantial differences from CTE’s nationwide data when broken out by data collection type.

  • More than 97% of companies surveyed from among CTE’s subscribers reported they remained open in May compared with 72% of companies reached via SurveyMonkey.
  • Among CTE subscriber companies that remained open, 78% said they were fully open compared with 64% of such companies reached via SurveyMonkey.
  • Some 76% of CTE subscribers had not laid off or furloughed employees due to the pandemic. Among companies reached via SurveyMonkey, 54% reported layoffs or furloughs.   


Related Glossary Terms

  • metalworking


    Any manufacturing process in which metal is processed or machined such that the workpiece is given a new shape. Broadly defined, the term includes processes such as design and layout, heat-treating, material handling and inspection.

  • payload ( workload)

    payload ( workload)

    Maximum load that the robot can handle safely.



Dennis, who served as electronic media editor at Cutting Tool Engineering from January 2007 through May 2018, is now the owner and publisher of the magazine and CTE Publications Inc. Dennis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University, and has more than 40 years of media experience.