Companies Plan to Increase Wages in U.S. as Jobs Hard to Fill

  • Duke CFO survey finds 55 percent see overvalued stock market
  • Optimism about U.S. economy wanes along with earnings outlook

America’s labor market may be inching closer to a tipping point.

The latest Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook showed U.S. employers plan to boost wages 3.3 percent in the coming year and almost half of the 510 firms surveyed are struggling to fill job openings. Attracting and retaining qualified personnel is one of the top concerns of chief financial officers, according to the quarterly survey that ended Sept. 4.

“CFOs say they are increasing wages in response to labor market pressures and difficulty finding key workers,” John Graham, a finance professor at Duke, said in a statement. “Employment should continue to increase over the next year but at a somewhat slower pace.”

Ninety-three percent of U.S. companies said they had openings in prime positions, with wage growth strongest in services, consulting and construction.

While labor demand remains robust and fatter paychecks are planned through most of next year, CFOs were less upbeat about the economy, the stock market and the earnings outlook. With the group’s gauge of economic optimism slipping to 60 in September from 62.9 three months earlier, firms slashed their capital spending plans and projected slower earnings growth.

Fifty-five percent of American CFOs said the U.S. stock market is overvalued, even after the recent 10 percent correction in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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