U.S. companies are planning to add workers in the coming year. Just don't expect their wages to increase much.
So finds the 2015 fourth-quarter survey of 225 private company executives released this week by global accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Respondents expressed concerns about growth prospects for the coming year, as well as the pressure to increase wages.
Fifty-eight percent of executives said they had plans to bring on more workers, up two percentage points compared to the third quarter. But those who said they will be hiring expect their headcounts to increase by an anemic 2.1 percent, which is in line with the post-recession average, according to the report.
Executives forecast average wage increases of just under 3 percent in 2015, a slightly lower rate of increase than they predicted when surveyed in the third quarter.
Additionally, more executives said they're worried about wage pressures, with 33 percent saying that was a top concern, compared with 18 percent a year earlier.
By and large, private company executives say they are looking for skilled labor, with roughly a third of companies in the market for tech workers. A similar proportion said they could not find enough qualified workers to fill open positions.
"Many employers would hire more people if they could find applicants with the right skills," Margaret Young, a partner at PwC's private company services practice, said in the report. "But many of them simply can't."
Decreasing optimism is another contributing factor to companies' hiring plans. While 53 percent of executives said they are optimistic about economic prospects in the year ahead, that represents a decrease of 18 percentage points compared with the same quarter in 2014.