COMMENTARY | The recession has been hard on my career. Being relatively young when the recession started, I wasn't an executive or a top performing employee, I was just an average worker with an average pay like many Americans. For three years I worked for the same company. After the first year I received a shockingly high bonus - a 6 percent increase in my salary. But then things changed. The next year, the company had a pay freeze and I didn't receive an increase. The following year both pay and 401(k)s were frozen and I felt like I was getting nothing for all my hard work, so I quit.
It wasn't a smart choice. I sat unemployed for almost a year before I found another job. And I took that job without many benefits, without any cash incentives or other perks, and at a lower pay rate than I normally would have. When I started, my supervisor told me not to expect much in the way of raises, he'd only given out 2 percent or less in the last few years.
But a new survey by the consulting firm Mercer says I might have something to look forward to after all. According to CNNMoney, the survey shows that 98 percent of the 1,500 companies surveyed by Mercer said they planned to raise pay next year. Average salaries are expected to rise by 2.9 percent.
Mercer's data compilation shows that my company is right in line with the average rate increases for the past five years. In 2009, base pay increased an average of 2.1 percent for all companies surveyed. In 2010, the rate increased to 2.3 percent. In 2011 and 2012, rates increased but then fell stagnant at 2.7 percent. Now they're projected to jump again.
Top performing employees can look forward to an even bigger salary boost. Mercer says top performers may see an average increase of 4.5 percent. As it stands right now, I am not a top performing employee in my company, but seeing the possibilities in black and white boosted my ambition a bit. After almost a year of living on my meager savings, I'm happy to work as hard as I can to be counted among the companies top performers, especially if it means a larger increase.
If I don't make it there by the time raises roll around, I still feel a bit more at ease knowing that average salary increases are on the rise.
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