2002 Raises Get Reality "Check"

August 1, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In yet another sign of the ailing economy, many companies have slashed the size of their raises from the levels they estimated a year ago.

A WorldatWork study found that 2002 raises will be in the 3.7% and 4% range  — down from the 4.3% to 4.7% companies projected last year. WorldatWork represents compensation and benefits executives.

WorldatWork researchers said the size of 2002 salary increases is at a historically low level.

On the other hand, things could be looking up for some in 2003.  Nonexempt (nonunion) hourly workers are now expected to get a 3.9% increase, while exempt salaried employees might anticipate a 4.1% increase, compared with the revised 3.9% raise for 2002.

Officers/executives have the most to look forward to, according to the survey.  They could be looking at a 4.3% bump in pay – though that is still off the 4.7% pace of 2001.  It does, however, compare favorably with the revised 4.0% increase projected for 2002.

Historical Perspective
Still, 2002 salary increases for two employee categories (nonexempt salaried and officers/executives) are the lowest in the 29-year history of the WorldatWork survey at 3.7% and 4% respectively. The two other employee categories (nonexempt hourly nonunion and exempt salaried) have not seen increases this low since 1996, at 3.7% and 3.9%, respectively, according to the survey.

Virtually every region and industry was affected by slumping salary increases, indicating the widespread nature of the US economic slowdown. In industry breakdowns, only the public administration category showed a higher than average increase, with exempt salaried employees receiving 5% in 2002.

Not only are employers overall reducing the size of salary increases employees will receive this year, they also indicated in the survey that they would be giving fewer pay raises of any size to employees. Nationally, 85% of employees will receive a pay raise this year, compared to 94% who received an increase in 2001.

Respondents to the survey were WorldatWork members in the compensation and benefits departments of more than 2,500 industries and employers, representing a total of 12.9 million US employees.