Salaries predicted to rise by 4.6% on average this year

Brian O’Mahony, Chief Business Correspondent

The Financial Services Sector is projected to pay best this year with increases of 5.4% anticipated while the struggling IT sector is likely to be the least generous offering increases of just 3.7% to their workers.

Forecasts, even when based on a comprehensive survey, are just guides. Last year the forecast figure for increases was 4.6% and it ended up at 5% on average.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which carried out the Snapshot survey on salary increase trends in September and October of last year, said its current prediction is likely to be topped before the year is out.

Employees who did best last year, according to the survey, were professional and clerical workers who got an actual increase of 5.0% on their base salary.

The lowest percentage increase reported was awarded to executives at 4.4%, although the survey points out this group was starting at a much higher salary base in the first instance.

Speaking at the launch of the survey yesterday, Mark Carter, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “For most organisations, workforce costs form the largest proportion of overall operating costs.

“Hence, the effective management of workforce compensation is a critical factor to ensure the profitable running of the business. Employers are continuously faced with the challenge of managing tight pay budgets whilst simultaneously managing the high expectations of employees.”

With confidence growing among job seekers and workers, the consultants say that pay will continue to be an issue for workers and companies alike.

Holding on to key workers is again becoming an issue and shades of the good old days of the Celtic Tiger seem to be on the way back, the report suggested.

“Given the more optimistic employment climate entering into 2005, organisations can expect to come under renewed pressure to retain key talent,” the report added.

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