Total 2019 U.S. training expenditures—including payroll and spending on external products and services—declined 5.3 percent to $83 billion. Spending on outside products and services dipped from $11 billion to $7.5 billion, while other training expenditures (i.e., travel, facilities, equipment) decreased to $23.8 billion from $29.6 billion. Meanwhile, training payroll increased 10 percent to $51.7 billion.
The training expenditure figures were calculated by projecting the average training budget to a weighted universe of 129,321 companies, using a Dun & Bradstreet database available through Hoovers of U.S. organizations with more than 100 employees.
Note: Although small companies have the smallest annual budgets, there are so many of them (101,097), that they account for one-third of the total budget for training expenditures.
Average training expenditures for large companies decreased from $19.7 million in 2018 to $17.7 million in 2019. The number for midsize companies dipped $400,000 to $1.7 million in 2019. Small companies barely increased from $355,731 to $367,490.
Some 35 percent of organizations said they increased staff from the year before, while 51 percent said the level remained the same (both down 1 percent from 2018). Some 14 percent said it was lower, up from 12 percent in 2018. Large services organizations and midsize manufacturers had the largest personnel costs. This year, midsize companies spent only one-quarter as much as large companies, while small companies spent about one-quarter as much as midsize ones. The average payroll figure for large companies was $5.6 million; for midsize organizations, it was $1.3 million; for small companies, it was $291,438.
For those who reported an increase in their training staff, the average increase was five people, one less than in 2018. For those who reported a decrease in their staff, the average decrease was 16 people—down from 24 last year.
Other training expenditures decreased significantly this year to $23.8 billion from $29.6 billion in 2018. Such expenditures can include travel, training facilities, in-house training development, and equipment. On average, organizations spent 16 percent of their budget or $445,434 (up from $235,077 last year) on learning tools and technologies. Large services organizations had the largest budgets for learning tools ($2.4 million). Midsize nonprofits had the largest tool budget in their size range ($264,250). Small associations spent the smallest percentage of their training budgets on tools and technologies (6 percent).
Looking ahead, the most frequently anticipated purchases are online learning tools and systems (44 percent vs. 41 percent last year); content development and authoring tools/systems, both at 34 percent vs. 31 and 27 percent last year, respectively; and learning management systems (31 percent vs. 33 percent last year). This is followed by certification (26 percent in 2018 and 2019), classroom tools and systems (25 percent vs. 32 percent last year), and mobile learning (23 percent vs. 24 percent last year). Augmented/virtual reality technology was a new category added to the list this year; it came in at 15 percent. Several items received 10 percent or less of hits, including audience response systems, customer relationship management, enterprise learning systems, talent management administration, translation and localization, and Web 2.0.
Overall, on average, companies spent $1,286 per learner this year compared with $986 per learner in 2018. Nonprofits spent the most per learner this year ($1,889), followed by manufacturers/distributors ($1,781). Midsize companies spent less ($829) than large ($1,544) and small ($1,511) companies.
While spending more per learner, companies provided slightly fewer hours of training than last year. On average, employees received 42.1 hours of training per year, compared to 46.7 hours last year. Small companies provided the most hours of training this year (49.8). Small nonprofits had the highest average number of hours overall (89.8).
Companies continued to devote the bulk of their training expenditures to training non-exempt employees (39 percent in 2018 and 2019).