If you’re hoping for a big raise this year, prepare to be disappointed. Sure, you might be among the lucky people who get a healthy bump in salary, but a recent survey by professional services firm Towers Watson found that companies are planning pay raises of 3 percent on average for workers.
A new survey by human resources and management consultancy Aon Hewitt confirms that forecast: Even as the job market continues to improve, salaried employees can expect their base pay to increase 3 percent, or about a percentage point smaller than the raises employers were handing out 20 years ago.
From 1996 through 2000, salaries went up by about 4.1 percent a year, according to Aon Hewitt data. From 2011 through 2015, annual raises have averaged about 2.8 percent. And even as we get further away from the recession, that downward shift appears to be permanent, as companies look to keep a lid on their fixed costs.
"The modest increases we've seen over the past 20 years are an indication that employers have changed their compensation strategies for good, and we shouldn't expect to see salary increases revert back to 4 percent or higher levels that were commonplace in the past," said Aon Hewitt’s Ken Abosch.
On the bright side, at least for some workers, employers are planning on doling out more money in the form of bonuses, cash awards and other so-called variable pay. Aon Hewitt’s survey found that workers will see their variable pay rise by 12.9 percent this year.
That shift favors higher-level white-collar workers, since companies have been cutting back on bonus and incentive pay for clerical or technical workers. In 2011, only 43 percent of companies gave bonuses or other cash incentives to those hourly workers eligible for overtime pay, down from 61 percent in 2009, according to data Aon Hewitt shared with The Washington Post. On the other hand, 93 percent of companies offer incentive programs to employees with a fixed salary.
As Abosch told the Post: “It’s the haves and the have nots.”
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National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Monday that tax reform has to happen this year, even if it means Congress has to stay in session longer. "I think we have a unique window in time right now, but unfortunately we keep losing days to this window,” he said. “The opportunity is now." House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week he’d keep members over Christmas if that’s what it takes. And Ryan predicted Monday that tax reform would pass the House by early next month and then get through the Senate to reach the president’s desk by the end of the year. But there are plenty of skeptics out there, given the hurdles. Issac Boltansky, an analyst at the investment bank Compass Point, told Business Insider, "The idea of getting tax reform done this year is a farcical fantasy. Lawmakers have neither the time nor the capacity to formulate and clear a tax reform package in 2017."
Passing a budget resolution for 2018 through the Senate will open a procedural door to a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. The resolution is expected to reach the Senate floor this week, although there are questions about whether Republicans have the 50 votes they need to pass it. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) said this weekend that she would vote for it and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is likely a “yes” as well, but Sen. Rand Paul (R-TN) is reportedly a likely “no” and John McCain (R-AZ) appears questionable. Now it looks like Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MI) won't be back in Washington this week to vote on the resolution due to health problems. The Hill says Cochran’s absence puts tax reform “on knife’s edge.”
Trump and the GOP still have work to do if they want to convince Americans that their tax plan won’t mostly help the rich. A CBS News Nation Tracker poll released Sunday finds that 58 percent say the tax reforms being discussed favor the wealthy, while 19 percent say it treats everyone equally and 18 percent say it favors the middle class.
The poll also found that 39 percent say that cutting the deficit should be a priority, even if it means taxes stay the same. About half as many people said cutting taxes should be prioritized even if the deficit rises.
The poll, conducted by YouGov, surveyed 2,371 U.S. adults between October 11 and 13. Its margin of error is 2.5 percent.