Although the economy might be strengthening and the jobless rate coming down, many employers are still in cost-cutting mode or at least still watching their pennies, a new report by The Conference Board suggests.
As a result, many employees who survived the recession and shouldered a heavier work burden for the past few years aren’t likely to be seeing current corporate gains in the form of significantly larger paychecks.
Actual 2004 salary budgets are averaging 3.5 percent increases, making them virtually identical to last year’s pay projections, according to the Conference Board. That was true for all three employee groups surveyed: nonexempt, exempt, and executive. (While the organization did not disclose in its press release how many companies were surveyed, a similar study by the group looked at 75 companies in the manufacturing, financial, and service sectors.)
“Although U.S. business continues to rebound from the economic downturn, companies are still paying close attention to cost control,” says Charles Peck, The Conference Board’s compensation specialist. “This continued caution is reflected in the pattern of 2004 salary increase budgets compared with last year’s projections.”
The survey found that all individual industry groups’ actual 2004 budgets were equal to, or slightly less than, projected. The only exception was the insurance industry, where actual budgets of between 3.5 percent and 3.7 percent came in “markedly below” the 4 percent that had been predicted.
This is just the second time in 11 years that median increases have fallen significantly below 4 percent, according to the organization. The only other year was 2003.