A statewide survey suggests that more than half of Kentucky’s manufacturers plan to hire in 2013.

The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers Wage and Benefits Survey released this month indicates that 52 percent of manufacturers surveyed intend to hire up to 19 employees in the coming year.

The annual survey, which is sponsored by the KAM and the state Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s Department of Workforce Investment, collected information from 184 companies that employ more than 68,000 people.

Louisville firm IQS Research collaborated with KAM on the survey.

As of March, Kentucky’s manufacturing sector employed 217,338 people, according to the workforce investment department.

The survey is a crucial tool to help companies assess wages and ensure they are competitive.

“We use this to help our existing companies look at where they fit in comparison with other manufacturers in the state in terms of wages and benefits,” said Jessica Thompson, marketing and communications director for the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.

Twenty-two companies in the 10-county Barren River Area Development District completed the survey, the third-highest number of participating companies among the state’s area development districts, Thompson said.

“We also use it as a resource for attracting other projects,” Thompson said. “

When we are working with companies to locate here, we have this information as a resource.”

Across the state, manufacturing employees included in the survey made an average of $47,486 in 2012, and 94 percent of companies offered health insurance to their employees.

A broad majority of companies surveyed – 79 percent – provide nine or more paid holidays annually and 55 percent provide an annual bonus.

The results from this year’s survey are down from the 2011 survey, which indicated that 58 percent of the 228 companies surveyed planned to hire in the following year. Employees in participating companies made an average income of $48,609 last year.

The chamber of commerce contacted local manufacturers to encourage participation in the survey.

“More than three-fourths of new jobs come from existing businesses, and we recognize it is integral to economic growth that we aid them by providing resources and information such as the KAM survey,” chamber president and CEO Ron Bunch said in a news release.

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