Personal Finance

Should you expect a holiday bonus?

Should you expect a holiday bonus?
Should you expect a holiday bonus?

Most workers wish their employers would stuff a little extra cash in their stocking this season, but few think they will actually get it.

Only about a quarter, or 22 percent, of employed Americans expect to receive a and just 12 percent anticipate a pay raise this holiday season, according to a report released Tuesday.

Most workers said a higher salary in 2016 was what they wanted most from their employer, followed by better health insurance, a better work/life balance, a new job and more vacation time.

Middle-income Americans struggling to make ends meet were the most likely to want a higher paycheck, according to Bankrate's report. But regardless of income level, more men than women expect to receive extra cash from their employer over the holidays — 29 percent versus 22 percent, respectively, Bankrate said.

Only 24 percent of companies offer nonperformance-based bonuses at the end of the year, according to a separate study by the Society of Human Resources.

Among those who expect a holiday bonus or raise, few expect to splurge these days. According to Bankrate, 35 percent said they planned to use the money to increase their savings, while 22 percent said it would go toward paying down debt. Nearly 1 in 5, or 19 percent, said it would be put toward bills and 17 percent said they would use the extra cash to buy holiday gifts.

"The American workforce is still very skeptical about the recovery, which is in keeping with the slow wage growth we've observed over the past several years," said Mike Cetera, an analyst at Bankrate.

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The average American took home $44,569.20 in salary last year, according to data released by the Social Security Administration. It marks an increase of 3.5 percent from 2013.

Despite the increase in average compensation last year, pay has struggled to pick up momentum, which doesn't bode well for holiday bonuses.

"Most employers have been feeling rather Scrooge-like ever since the Great Recession. It doesn't seem like that's going to change anytime soon," Cetera said.

"In the past, you would have a party along with a bonus," he said. Now, "there's much more of the 'your party is your reward' for a hard year's work."