2019 Merit Increase Projections

By Kathryn O'Connor, PHR, SHRM-CP, CCP, GRP, Director, Compensation Services
Published December 11, 2018

Salary Budget Survey

For the eighth straight year, employers are holding the line on employee pay increases, with 2019 projections averaging 3%, according to multiple published survey sources.

HR Source recently released the 2018 Salary Budget Survey, which contains data from 108 participating Chicagoland member organizations. The survey reports average budgeted pay increases for the next 12-month period (including general, merit, and/or cost of living adjustments [COLA]), as well as the types of pay increase programs used. Results are segmented by employee work group and by manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and all industries combined

The survey results indicate the highest projected pay increases will be directed towards Executive/Officer roles, with an overall projection of 3.3%.  Non-Union Production, Maintenance, and Service roles, in addition to Non-Exempt Clerical and Technical jobs, had the lowest projection of the employee groups, at 2.9%.  

Below is a chart showing some HR Source’s Salary Budget Survey highlights, compared to other national sources:

 Survey Source Union Production Non-Union Production Non-Exempt Exempt
 HR Source 3.0% 2.9%  2.9% 3.0%
 Aon n/a n/a n/a 3.1%
 Mercer n/a n/a n/a 2.9%
 Korn Ferry Hay Group n/a n/a 3.0% 3.0%
 Willis Towers Watson n/a n/a 3.0% 3.1%
 WorldatWork n/a 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%



The comparison figures above are relatively consistent and continue to reflect a conservative attitude towards base salary increases.

Interested in obtaining the full 2018 Salary Budget Survey report?  The results of this survey are made available to all HR Source members by the generosity of those that participated. If you find this data of value, please consider participating in the future. Members may download the full report under the “My Surveys" link on the "Surveys" tab. If you have questions, please contact us at 800-448-4584 or at hotline@hrsource.org.  

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