WorldatWork Survey Shows Slight Uptick in Salary Budgets

46th Annual Salary Budget Survey Points to Pay Equity Work, Minimum Wage Adjustments, Lower Unemployment Rate and Lower Inflation Rate as Factors


Scottsdale, AZ, July 30, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

For the second year in a row, salary budgets in the U.S. increased slightly from one year ago to a 3.2% average (median: 3%), meeting the previous year’s projections. The longest-running survey of its kind, now in its 46th year, WorldatWork’s Salary Budget Survey provides CEOs, Chief Financial Officers and HR professionals with comprehensive, year-over-year data to design competitive compensation plans and Total Rewards strategies that attract and retain top-performing employees. The data covers nearly 14 million employees worldwide from 17 countries, in addition to the United States and Canada. Download the report by subscription, with more detailed results also available to build reports by geographic region, industry, state, etc. (Journalists: for a copy, contact

With pay equity at the forefront, it’s no surprise it factors into the overall upward trend of salary budgets. “Increased investments to ensure fair and equitable pay practices, in tandem with exceptionally low unemployment and climbing minimum wage rates, are likely contributing to the upward trend in salary budgets,” says Alison Avalos, Director, WorldatWork.

Sample Highlights:

The report captures base salary increases, merit budgets, salary structure adjustments (U.S.), promotional increases (U.S.) and variable pay plans (U.S.).  High-level examples:

  • Pay Equity: Regarding the impact of anticipating pay adjustments to remediate pay equity issues on 2020 budgets, 77% of organizations plan to budget for pay equity adjustments in 2020, up from 69% in 2019. When pay equity adjustments are not budgeted, 46% of respondents say company savings will be used for adjustments in 2020.
  • Promotional Increases: While there was no growth in the number of employees receiving promotional increases, the size of the average promotional increase grew to 8.9%.
  • Merit Budgets: Average merit increase budgets for 2019 were reported at 2.9%, representing a slight shift upward from 2018.
  • Metro Data: The largest average salary increase budgets are in Boston, Washington, D.C., Denver, San Francisco, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle.
  • Salary Structure Adjustments: In 2019, the reported overall average salary structure adjustment is 2.2%, representing an upward shift from 2% in 2018 and is slightly higher than the projected 2.1%.
  • Around the Globe: With an average budget increase of 9.9%, India maintains the largest salary increase of all countries surveyed. Conversely, Russia and Brazil experienced big drops, by 0.7 and 0.5 percentage points, respectively.

 “Companies need to recognize that while the salary budget increases are relatively modest, in the current work landscape salaries are just one component in a compensation package,” says Avalos. “Users of Salary Budget Survey data need to frame their analysis and use of the data with this mindset. Other recent research indicates that beyond salary, Total Rewards benefits that provide a great work experience and a great life experience are valued highly by employees and companies are addressing these needs to remain competitive.”


WorldatWork collected survey data for the “WorldatWork 2019-2020 Salary Budget Survey” from March 25, 2019 to May 4, 2019. The survey report was based on 5,198 responses. Members were asked to respond for the U.S., Canada and 17 other countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (U.K.).


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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