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The Great Resignation skips the supply chain

Compensation rises 12% in 2021 but gender pay gap widens

The supply chain saw fewer people leaving their jobs in 2021, and while overall pay increased, men disproportionally benefited from the increase. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Supply chains have been under constant pressure for the past several years, but while COVID-19 ignited the Great Resignation in America, that mass departure of talent never materialized in the supply chain.

The 2022 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report from the Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM), released this week, found that supply chain professional incomes rose, job satisfaction increased and turnover remained relatively flat on a year-over-year basis.

ASCM found that 14% of those surveyed had taken a new job in 2021, up just 2% from the prior year survey. Conversely, a March report from Willis Tower Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that 33% of American workers said they were looking for a new job in Q4 of 2021. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 47 million people voluntarily left their jobs in 2021.

Within the supply chain, however, that mass exodus has not materialized, according to ASCM, even though the pressure on workers has ramped up. The association’s survey suggested that supply chain organizations tended to have better work-life balance and higher pay scales than traditional employment.

The survey covered 2,379 U.S. workers in positions ranging from warehouse associates to director-level professionals. Represented companies ranged from less than $25 million in revenue to more than $50 billion.


Watch: How supply chains improve the customer experience


ASCM compiled data on 14 other countries as well and presented that alongside the U.S. data in the report. Industries covered included aerospace, automotive, chemical, consumer packaged goods, government and military, industrial and manufacturing, pharmaceutical and health care, retail, technology, and transportation and logistics.


The survey found that 40% of those who did find new jobs cited a higher salary, while 20% chose better work-life balance and another 20% said more flexible work arrangements. Sixty percent said their firm provides a good work-life balance and 60% said they were encouraged to take vacation time. Almost half (48%) of supply chain professionals receive four weeks or more of paid time off.

More than three-quarters of respondents (79%) said their company offers flexible work arrangements and 20% said their company increased the number of paid holidays offered in 2021.

Salaries rise

The average supply chain salary rose 9% in 2021 with total compensation increasing 12% to $96,000 per year. Additional compensation was earned by 71% of respondents, with 60% coming in the form of a cash bonus, 13% in profit sharing, 8% in incentive pay and 7% from overtime pay. The median additional compensation was $8,000.

Base salaries ranged from $55,000 for the 10th percentile to $150,000 for the 90% percentile. The 50th percentile earned $88,000 in salary.

Overall, 79% of respondents reported a salary increase in 2021 compared to just 59% receiving a bump in pay in 2020. The average salary increase was 9%, ASCM said, compared to 6% in 2020. More than one-third of respondents say an increase of greater than 8%, with 15% saying it was more than 15% and 20% indicating an increase between 8% and 15%. Forty-two percent of respondents received an increase of less than 3.9%.

Chart showing average supply chain salary by job title.
The average supply chain salary in 2021 based on job title. (Photo: Association of Supply Chain Management)

As with many positions, experience played a role in the average salary. While the average entry-level salary remained flat at $60,000, the more experience a person had led to larger increases. Someone with 20 years or more of experience saw their average salary increase from $115,077 to $125,191 yearly. Generally, the increase was the 9% to 10% range, with those with three to four years showing the smallest increase, rising from $68,000 to $72,625.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

One change the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on the world is a greater focus on diversity and pay equity. Within the supply chain, women are still typically paid less than men, but ASCM’s report found that while overall the pay gap widened in 2021, some progress was made.

According to the survey, women under the age of 40 earned slightly more than men, but those between 40 and 49 years old still took home about 8% less on average. That is down from 15% less in 2020. The pay gap for those 50 and over increased.

The pay gap was 13% in the 2017 survey before declining over the next several years until it reached 2% in 2020. However, last year it jumped back up to 6% even as average compensation rose. Women earned $85,000 in 2021 on average compared to $90,000 for men.

Chart showing average supply chain salary for men and women across age brackets.
The average supply chain salary for men and women in 2021. (Photo: Association of Supply Chain Management)

Based on age, the pay gap was 15.7% for those 60 and over; 28.5% for those 50-59; 7.5% for those 40-49; and 0.4% for those 30-39. For those ages 20-29, women actually outearned men by 5.4%.

When accounting for race and ethnic backgrounds, Black men outearned Black women $84,000 to $81,000 and white men saw a slightly bigger gap in their earnings, averaging $90,000 in compensation compared to white women’s $85,440. For the Hispanic/Latinx population, the pay scale was better for women, who earned on average $87,000 compared to men’s average of $85,000.

Public versus private employers

When looking at the overall pay gap variances, ASCM found differences in public versus private employers. Women earned more on average in the public sector ($96,000 versus $92,000) while men had higher private-sector compensation ($86,450 versus $77,719).

In the public sector, Hispanic/Latinx employers topped the average pay scale at $102,000 compared to $92,000 for white employees and $88,500 for Black employees. In the private sector, Black employees earned an average of $85,000 compared to $78,000 for Hispanic/Latinx and white employees.

Technical skills

Finally, the ASCM survey asked respondents a series of other questions, including what technical skills were needed in their careers. Despite the increased push for automation inside the supply chain, only 25% said technology expertise in artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and robotics were a top skill. Risk management was cited by 40%, with 55% saying project management, 59% noting inventory management and 60% saying best practice knowledge.

Professional development was also an important factor in compensation, with each certificate resulting in $10,000 or more in yearly salary. Those with graduate degrees earned an average of $108,000 compared to $84,000 for those with undergraduate degrees and $66,811 for those with an associate degree. More than half of supply chain professionals (54%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher and the average salary of $84,000 is 15% higher than the general population median of $72,830 with a comparable degree.

The entire survey, including the results for Canada and Europe, can be found on ASCM’s website.

Click for more articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]