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Press Room

Press Contacts:
Marcia Rhodes
Media Relations
Phone: 202-315-5517 or 480-304-6885
E-mail: marcia.rhodes@worldatwork.org

February 3 , 2009

Three Out of Four U.S. Employees Can Expect a Raise in 2009
WorldatWork Survey: Employers to Decrease Salary Budgets But Still Plan to Give Raises

Highest total salary budget increases this year found in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco

Washington – A WorldatWork survey of more than 1,000 U.S. companies asked if employers plan to change their salary budget projections in light of the current economy. Results from the WorldatWork Special Update: 2008-09 Salary Budget Survey, the largest survey of its kind, found that across all employee categories, industries and regions, employers plan to lower their 2009 salary budget increase projections by 0.8 percentage points. This means average salary budget increases this year will be 3.1 percent compared to 3.9 percent when data was first collected in April 2008. Depending on where they work, 77 percent of the workforce can still expect to receive base pay raises. Major metro areas with the largest projected salary budget increases of 3.1 percent are: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (see data table)

The data for the WorldatWork Special Update was taken and compiled in early December, after the credit markets tightened and after the presidential election so that companies had as many of the variables needed to re-assess compensation plans for 2009.

“There is a silver lining in this dark economic cloud,” said Anne C. Ruddy, CCP, president of WorldatWork, a global human resources association. “Employers are committed to rewarding employees; our data shows 77 percent of employees can expect a pay raise, especially high performers.”

When it comes to increases for officers and executives, nearly 17 percent of respondents reported zero salary budget increases in December 2008 compared to 3 percent in April 2008.
“This sends an important signal to employees that leaders are doing their part and sharing the pain brought on by these difficult times,” Ruddy added.

Key Findings

  • Across all employee categories, industries and regions, survey participants reported lower 2009 salary budget increase projections by 0.8 percentage points since April, taking the overall average from 3.9 to 3.1 percent nationwide.
  • Half of participating organizations (51 percent) made changes to their 2009 projected salary budget increases, with more than 90 percent of those making changes lowering their salary increase budgets by an average of 1.6 percent.
  • For exempt salaried employees, 10 percent of participating organizations will be freezing pay in 2009.
  • For organizations reducing salary budget increases, 19 to 33 percent are cutting salary increase budgets to zero.
  • 51 percent of all respondents characterized their organization’s 2008 year-to-date (YTD) financial performance as worse than 2007 with only a quarter saying their organization was performing better than the year before.
  • More than half of the organizations minimizing their 2009 salary increase budgets cited a recent and/or anticipated decline in business as the reason for change.

About the Survey

Survey data was collected in December 2008 with a three percent margin of error. Survey respondents are WorldatWork members employed in the HR, compensation and benefits departments of mostly large North American companies.

Surveys were electronically sent to 2,254 WorldatWork members who participated in the 2008-09 Salary Budget Survey on behalf of organizations with operations in the United States. Of this population, 1,169 responses were received — a 52-percent response rate. Submissions from organizations with fewer than 10 employees and duplicate submissions were deleted from the data set. The final data contains 1,033 responses analyzed by statistical software.  

Journalists and reporters may request a copy of the full survey report by contacting Marcia Rhodes at marcia.rhodes@worldatwork.org or by calling 202-315-5517 or 480-304-6885. All others, please contact WorldatWork Customer Services at 877-951-9191.

About WorldatWork®

The Total Rewards Association

WorldatWork (www.worldatwork.org) is a nonprofit human resources association for professionals and organizations focused on compensation, benefits, work-life effectiveness and total rewards — strategies to attract, motivate and retain an engaged and productive workforce. WorldatWork and its affiliates provide comprehensive education, certification, research, advocacy and community, enhancing careers of professionals and, ultimately, achieving better results for the organizations they serve. WorldatWork has more than 70,000 members and subscribers worldwide; 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies employ a WorldatWork member. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork is affiliated with more than 70 local human resources associations and has offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.