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Bigger Paychecks Expected for American Workers

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American workers may be justified in expecting bigger paychecks in 2011.

A combination of booming exports and growing corporate profits is providing momentum to the national economic recovery, with U.S. workers poised to reap the benefits in the form of wage increases.

While companies have single-mindedly focused on cutting costs in recent years, the latest Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey found that chief financial officers expect wage increases of 2.5% for 2011, up from the 1.9% they predicted for 2010.

In addition, a recent Wall Street Journal survey found economists are expecting 2011 to see the creation of 180,000 jobs a month. The National Association of Corporate Directors’ (NACD) latest Board Confidence Index (BCI) concurs with this optimistic outlook. A majority of U.S. corporate directors predict that their companies will either retain or expand their workforce, according to data from the NACD BCI for Q4 2010.

While it isn’t clear how widespread the increase in wages might be, some industries, such as manufacturing (which added 136,000 jobs over the past year), may have to actually compete to attract and maintain employees. That is a dramatic shift from today’s job market, providing much-needed relief to individuals who have been worried about finding jobs or keeping the ones they have.

With the official end of the recession having occurred in 2009, the prospect of higher wages and an increase in employment is long-overdue good news for the U.S. workforce. It also means that boards of directors can focus on longer-term goals for their companies, and not worry about simply keeping their companies afloat.