NORTHEAST HOLDS THE BIGGEST PLUMS: NORTH CENTRAL LOOKING MOST MEDIA-FRIENDLY

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Cost of living may be pitting the Northeast against the West in the salary sweepstakes: The Northeast is more generous in handing out salaries than other regions, but the West isn't far behind.

The Northeast, the regional grandparent of the ad industry defined in this survey as Pennsylvania and areas to the north and east, offers the highest salary for CEO, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, media director and senior account exec.

The West led in salaries for the other four positions. The West's raises are the same or a notch above the rest in the higher-paying agency jobs.

Raises in the mid- to lower-range paying jobs show little regional bias.

LEADS IN BONUSES

Each region pays the highest bonus as a percentage of base pay for at least two positions, with the West claiming a third. The bonus in the Northeast is highest for account exec and senior account exec and second highest for chief financial officer, and copywriter.

Northeast agencies hold a brighter outlook on employment than the rest: Some 76% of the agencies there will boost their employment rolls in '98. Only 6.7% will cut employment and 17.3% will show no change.

These figures compare with a stable North Central, where 69.3% of its agencies plan to boost employment, 1.1% will pare staff levels, and 29.5% will not change staffing levels.

The Northeast is region of choice for growth in creative and account services employment. Some 65% of Northeast agencies will expand creative and 72% account services. Such forward spin is coming from expansion in business, and the area's agencies see 58% of new dollars coming from existing accounts and 32% from new services.

Agencies credited billings increases to three sources: existing business, new services and new clients.

gender differences

Some 30% of Northeast agencies don't plan to expand their media-side -- lowest, but not by much, among the regions. The North Central is most media-friendly, expecting the largest increase in media hiring (35% of agencies) but also the highest no change (50% of agencies).

Gender pay differences for the same job are less pronounced in the Northeast than elsewhere.

The Northeast contributes heavily to the national statistic showing women CEOs are better paid than men, and female creative directors just $200 short of the male CD pay scale -- two posts likely to be skewed because of the male-female split -- 6-to-1 for CEOs and 3-to-1 for CDs.

Those who believe pay equality is paramount, should stay out of the South, where

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