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Georgia salaries on the rise for 2006

LAWRENCEVILLE

It's shaping up to be a good year for Georgia workers and their checking accounts.

While there is plenty of caution in the area job market because of Delta's bankruptcy, the uncertain fate of Ford's Hapeville plant and the pending shutdown GM's Doraville facility, worker pay in most industries appears to be on the rise.

The salary upswing has developed into a solid trend in recent years, said Keith Ordan, regional vice president of staffing firm Robert Half International, Atlanta.

"We've seen a steady increase since the end of 2003 in both cash and benefits," Ordan said.

Jobs with the fastest-rising salaries in Georgia include certified accountants, he said.

A typical Georgia beancounter made $62,000 in 2004, according to the latest wage survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accountants are in high demand because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which established new rules following a spate of accounting scandals, most notably at Enron Corp. Demand for accountants also picked because veteran bookkeepers from the Baby Boom generation have begun to retire.

Other hot professions include information technology, especially computer engineers and programmers, whose annual pay was nearly $79,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.

Sarbanes-Oxley prompted many companies to upgrade their accounting software, making information technology workers a hot commodity, Ordan said.

Several local companies have robust pay to offer as the new year begins.

Metro Atlanta's employers supplying the most $100,000 jobs: Coca-Cola, Earthlink, General Electric, Home Depot and Norcross-based EMS Technologies, according to a recent survey by the Ladders.com, which helps track high-paying jobs for workers and recruiters.

Even Gov. Sonny Perdue is handing out raises.

His newest budget includes 2007 salary increases for all state employees, with a 4 percent pay hike for workers at the lowest end of the salary ladder. The governor said it's the first step in restructuring state employee salaries to improve Georgia's competitiveness in the overall job market.