Companies plan raises for 2009, but...

For those of you still employed and secure in your jobs, congratulations! You may be getting a raise next year. A survey by two compensation consulting firms revealed that businesses intend to increase employee pay by an average of 3.5 percent in 2009. But with good news comes bad news these days, of course, and the flip side is that these same employers are still intent on cutting jobs -- 26 percent of them plan layoffs next year.

If you're feeling secure, there's even more good news: Your raise will go farther. That's because economists believe the rate of inflation for 2009 will be just 1.5 percent. Still, you're not completely off the hook. A quarter of surveyed companies plan to raise contributions for health care. Overall, Big Business will be reducing benefits, and many don't intend to give bonuses.

Even if you're not on the receiving end of those raises, take some comfort. With this move, businesses are signaling their long-term confidence in the economy, believing that, hey, maybe the country won't fall into depression and Obama might actually do a good job. They're doing their part to get people shopping again and encourage lenders to reopen their coffers. Of course, that's faint consolation now if you've been axed or nearing the chopping block. But at least The Man is showing some mercy by not cutting back on everything.

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