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Companies lower 2009 compensation increases due to economic uncertainty


Toronto, October 27 - Canadian workers will receive lower wage increases in 2009 as organizations focus on cost cutting and efficiency drives in this uncertain economic environment, according to the Conference Board’s 2009 Compensation Planning Outlook, released today.

“Even before the financial crisis began in September, organizations were projecting lower increases for 2009,” said Prem Benimadhu, vice-president, governance and human resources management. “Although companies continue to face challenges in attracting and retaining talent, the global economic slowdown has made cost reduction a top priority. The projected average non-union increase in 2009 could fall about half a percentage point from the 3.9 per cent reported by respondents to our annual survey, conducted before the financial crisis began.”

When the Conference Board conducted its 27th annual survey from June to August 2008, compensation planners expected non-union wage increases to average 3.9 per cent. Actual wage increases averaged 4.2 per cent in 2008. A total of 395 Canadian organizations responded to the survey, the findings of which are reported in Compensation Planning Outlook 2009: Economic Uncertainty Spells Caution Ahead.

Workers in the oil and gas industry are again expected to lead the country in average wage growth, although the projected increases in 2009 will fall below the six per cent gains these employees made in 2008. The lowest increases are expected in the beleaguered manufacturing sector, and in the communications and telecommunications industry.

Wage increases will vary significantly across Canada in 2009. Increases in the four western provinces are expected to exceed four per cent on average, with Alberta’ s non-unionized workers gaining an average of 5.1 per cent. Increases in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces are expected to fall below the national average.

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