Businesses Offer Wage Outlook: 41% Expect Raises

The wage outlook for the first quarter of 2018 is encouraging, according to a survey of businesses fielded by Express in December 2017. Respondents were asked, “Over the next three months, do you expect wages at your company to increase, decrease, or stay the same?”

Forty-one percent said “increase,” 58% said “stay the same,” and 1% said, “decrease.”

That is an improvement over the previous survey on the outlook for the fourth quarter of 2017. In that survey, only 34% said “increase,” 65% said “stay the same,” and again 1% said, “decrease.”

With more than 800 franchise locations across North America, Express Employment Professionals has a unique view from the front lines in a wide variety of job markets.

Janis Petrini, the owner of an Express Employment Professionals office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, expects wage growth in the Grand Rapids area because there’s still catching up to do.

“The wages will continue to grow based on the competition for talent, and we will also need to catch the wages up to times that we are in,” she said. “The wage increases have not tracked with growth in the economy and the job market.”

Anne Woods, an Express owner in Santa Fe and Covina Springs, California, is a little more skeptical.

“My expectation would be that companies will wait until they are under extreme pressure to lift wages further,” she said.

Woods added she believes that the increase in individual take-home pay from tax cuts will give companies a respite for a few months.

Bruce Hein, who runs an Express Employment Professionals office in Sarnia, Ontario, and Shane DeCoste, who manages an Express Employment office in Halifax, Nova Scotia, both spend their days focused on job markets that are thousands of kilometers apart, and both agree that wages will rise.

DeCoste says he knows, “as long as unemployment rates remain low we expect to see increases in wages throughout 2018,” and Hein notes that “businesses have had a very hard time recruiting talent the last few years, so naturally wages have increased to stay competitive and attract the right people.”

When 99% of companies expect steady or rising wages, it’s welcome news. And when a growing number of businesses say they are planning to increase wages, it’s very good news, according to Bob Funk, CEO of Express.

“Despite the many signs of economic health, many families have felt their wages have risen too slowly over the last few years,” he added. “But the tight labor market, economic confidence and lower taxes may finally conspire to lift wages for more workers.”


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