Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Tough times...if you work for a living

NEW YORK - Despite an improved economy, cost-conscious employers are granting workers limited pay raises this year, and plan only slightly larger increases in 2005.

Companies are budgeting pay increases of 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent this year _ the third in a row below the 4 percent-plus level that was routine in the 1990s _ and plan raises of 3.5 percent next year, according to a pair of surveys.

The modest raises both this year and next will keep workers' pay increasing faster than the rate of inflation. But higher worker contributions for health care could eat up much of the pay gains, analysts said.

So much for that booming economy.