Why Wages May Begin Inching Up

It's no coincidence that Corporate America has enjoyed four fat years while its workers have been served up some pretty slim pickings. After all, keeping a tight lid on labor costs played a large part in making companies more competitive and securing strong profits. Now, profit growth is slowing--net income for the 900 companies in BUSINESS WEEK's Corporate Scoreboard was flat in the first quarter. At the same time, wages are creeping up. How much? David Wyss, an economist at DRI/McGraw-Hill, voices the majority view, predicting that wage growth will accelerate "slightly" this year--to 2.9% from last year's 2.7%. A few economists, though, think wage pressure could be more intense.

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