Salary Budget Increases Inch Upward; 2019 Budgets Remain Modest

July 10, 2018

For the first time in 4 years, the U.S. national salary budget increase average is higher than 3%, nudging slightly up to 3.1% for 2018. This also is the first time in four years when the actual salary increase has met the previous year’s projection. All recent years have fallen short of the projected increase budget amounts. U.S. salary budgets are projected to reach 3.2% in 2019.

Released today, the “WorldatWork 2018-2019 Salary Budget Survey Top-Level Results” captures information from 19 countries and provides actual and projected salary budget information broken down by employment category.

“Expectations for growth in U.S. salary budget increases have been mounting for many months,” said Alison Avalos, Director, Research & Certification at WorldatWork. “However, despite significant tax reform changes and a tight labor market, the one-tenth of a percentage point movement isn’t the growth that was anticipated. This year’s survey data gives us little reason to think that U.S. organizations intend to significantly invest more dollars into salary increases for 2019.”

The “WorldatWork 2018-2019 Salary Budget Survey” full report covering data on base salary increases, merit budgets, salary structure adjustments (U.S. only), promotional increases (U.S. only) and variable pay plans (U.S. only) will be released on July 31.

Global Perspective

In 2018, there was noticeable variability in salary increase budgets from country to country, with the range rising and falling from 0.1 percentage point to 1.6%. Brazil saw the largest swing, dropping from 7.5% (median: 8.2%) in 2017 to 5.9% (median: 6%) this year. The average salary increase budget in Mexico experienced the greatest growth with a 0.4 percentage point rise to 4.9% (median: 4.8%), and is expected to reach 5%, mean and median, by next year.

India maintains the largest salary increase budget of all countries surveyed, with an average budget increase of 10%, mean and median, coming in below expectations of 10.2%. Projections for 2019 are to remain steady at 10%.

All countries are planning for minor adjustments to their 2019 total salary increase budgets, except India and the United Kingdom, which plan to stay at 10% and 3.1%, respectively. India’s 10% projection is the largest once again.

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork (  is the leading nonprofit professional association in compensation and total rewards. We serve those who design and deliver total rewards programs to cultivate engaged, effective workforces that power thriving organizations. We accomplish this through education and certification; idea exchange; knowledge creation; information sharing; research; advocacy; and affiliation and networking. Founded in the United States in 1955, today WorldatWork serves total rewards professionals throughout the world working in organizations of all sizes and structures.

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