You know that raise you've been holding out for since the Great Recession ended? This just may be your year to get it.
When the economic crisis sidelined millions of workers and sent the jobless rate soaring, U.S. employers essentially put raises on hold. Wage growth, already weak before the recession hit, has been virtually unchanged, when adjusted for inflation, since 2009.
It's not hard to see why. When employers can take their pick from a large pool of job seekers, they don't need to pay more to attract and keep good workers. But now, with the jobless rate falling steadily—to 5.6 percent last month from a peak for 10 percent in late 2009—many economists predict wages should begin rising again.
So far, that hasn't happened—according to the latest government data. But there are early signs that those official wage numbers could start moving higher this year.
One comes from a recent research report from Principal Financial Group, a large pension and asset manager. The researchers looked at anonymous salary data covered by pensions plans offered by the company's 33,000 clients—mostly small and medium-size businesses.
What they found was that, while median salaries in their database also remained flat through 2013, those salaries rose last year more than 3 percent, much stronger than the 1.74 percent reported by the government.
"That suggests that we could see—as the unemployment continues to decline in the U.S.—that wage growth start to meaningfully accelerate this year within the broader government survey," according to Principal Global Investors economist Robin Anderson, one of the researchers who conducted the study.