Employers are planning to increase salaries by an average of about 2.5 per cent in 2016, according to surveys conducted by human resource firms Morneau Shepell and the Hay Group.

These salary hikes are below the increases employers had projected for 2015, “continuing a downward trend in Canadian salary increases that has developed since the start of the economic downturn in 2008-09.” With salary increases in the U.S. projected at three per cent again this year, Canadians are falling further behind U.S. counterparts.

Salary increases in public sector fields of education, public administration, health care and social assistance are expected to be lower, averaging two per cent, while salaries in financial services are expected to lead the way with average increases of three per cent.

These salary forecasts by employers are just projections. As economic conditions worsened over the past year, the actual base salary increases granted fell short of what these employers had planned, averaging just 2.2 per cent. Average weekly and hourly earnings increased by just 1.9 per cent from June 2014 to June 2015, with average increases higher in the goods sector than in services.