Half of Businesses Raise Wages, Most in 15 Years

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By Larry Swisher

Jan. 25 — Nearly half of businesses (49 percent) raised workers' wages and salaries in the fourth quarter of last year, the most in over 15 years, survey results from the National Association for Business Economics showed Jan. 25.

The proportion of firms increasing wages was the highest since 54 percent in the first quarter of 2000. In the third quarter of 2015, one-third of employers (33 percent) boosted pay, the Washington, D.C.-based professional group said.

Another 47 percent reported wages were unchanged in the fourth quarter, while 4 percent cut pay. The latest survey was conducted Dec. 17-Jan. 5 among 148 NABE members and industry economists.

Wage and salary increases are becoming more widespread among companies, “even as sales growth and hiring at their firms flatten and they trim their expectations for expansion in the overall economy,” said Lisa Emsbo-Mattingly, NABE president and director of research at Fidelity Investments' Global Asset Allocation.

Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2016, 58 percent of survey respondents expected their firms to increase pay, while 38 percent foresaw no change, and 4 percent planned pay cuts.

Job Outlook Steady

The overall employment outlook for the first quarter was little changed from the prior three months.

About 34 percent of businesses expect to add workers, compared with 29 percent in the fourth quarter, while the share planning to cut jobs rose to 15 percent from 10 percent. The rest foresaw no change in employment.

The survey also showed 33 percent of firms actually boosted employment in the fourth quarter, little changed from the prior three months, while the share shedding jobs held roughly steady at 14 percent. The rest reported employment was unchanged.

About 42 percent of all firms reported difficulty filling job openings in the fourth quarter, fewer than the 49 percent who experienced problems in the prior three months. The proportion of businesses reporting shortages of skilled labor fell to 30 percent from 38 percent.

The report is available at http://src.bna.com/cbP.

For More Information

For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library's Bloomberg BNA's Wage Trend Indicator chapter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Larry Swisher in Washington at lswisher@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com