Big Yellow payout boosts local economy

By Anna Yee

March 1, 2012 Updated Mar 1, 2012 at 11:12 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Many Caterpillar employees are reaping the benefits of a successful year for Big Yellow.

On Friday, local Caterpillar staff and management will receive their incentive pay, thanks to last year's record-breaking sales and profits.

A CAT spokesman said the payout ranges from about half of the base rates of senior executives, scaling downward.

That could be thousands of dollars for some.

Union production workers will receive a similar rewards pay in November.

Overall, the compensation adds up to $1.2 billion worldwide.    

"Certainly it's something that is a positive and I think a lot of smiling faces around Peoria, hopefully, for both Caterpillar employees and their families, as well as the local retailers and restaurants and so forth," said Jim Dugan, a Caterpillar spokesman.

Some Caterpillar employees are spending their extra earnings in big ways.

One employee tells us some people are planning to buy BMW's and Corvettes, while others are investing in home renovations.

At Sherman's in Peoria, the General Manager said sales are up nearly 50 percent for furniture and other discretionary items.

"We see our Peoria store lately doing even better than the other stores just because of CAT's strength," said Paul Sherman, General Manager, "and it works vice versa. When CAT's not doing well, the Peoria economy suffers."

This is the second consecutive year for Caterpillar payouts.

The company spokesman said none were given for 2009, when CAT experienced layoffs and pay freezes.