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Employers will be cautious with wages and benefits, even if the US economy improves. In order to restrain rising costs this year, many employers plan to take a hard-line position on wages, salaries, and benefits costs that continue to rise faster than the general rate of inflation, according to a study by Towers, Perrin, Forster, and Crosby, a consulting firm.

The study predicts that pay increases will average 6.5 percent to 7 percent for workers and 6 percent for executive salaries. Most employers will bargain to shift more of the cost of health-care benefits to employees, and to tighten rules on coverage. Most will try to cut administrative staffs, largely by attrition.

And many employers are considering thrift or profit-sharing plans, employee stock programs, or other alternatives to wage increase.m

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