2.8 percent is the median U.S. salary increase this year

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Workers getting a raise this year of about 3 percent have a lot of company. The median salary increase in 2011 for U.S. employees will be 2.8 percent, according to research by the Hay Group, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm.

Hay surveyed 468 organizations in November from a variety of industries to gauge pay raises. The 2.8 percent raise is higher than the 2010 median increase reported by Hays of 2.4 percent.

While that’s good news, Hay’s research shows that half of the companies surveyed said they are considering increases in employee health-care co-pays. 

The survey also forecasts more hiring this year.

That news tracks trends found by other national surveys.  After reaching a seven-year high in 2009, downsizing activity in 2010 fell to its lowest level since 1997. In fact, the year came to a close with the lowest monthly job-cut total since 2000, according to Chicago-based outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

December job cuts were 29 percent lower than the same month in 2009 when 45,094 cuts were announced, according to the company’s 2010 year-end report released Wednesday. 

Overall, the 529,973 job cuts announced in 2010 were 59 percent fewer than the 1,288,030 layoffs recorded in 2009, the largest downsizing year since 2002 (1,466,823). 
“The downsizing phase of the recession really came to an end in 2009.  Job cutting fell dramatically in the second half of that year. The pace of downsizing continued to slow in 2010 to levels we have not seen since before the 2001 recession,” John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.

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