In the processions of the recent demonstrations, there were opponents of the pension reform. But not only. Many were those who came to protest against “the high cost of living”. And for good reason: the price increase continues in France, with an inflation rate of 5.7% in March 2023.
Consequence: in 2022, the return of inflation after several decades of low price increases has forced employers to increase wages, to help employees cope with the decline in their purchasing power. The basic monthly salary has thus increased by an average of 3.8% over one year, according to figures from Dares, the statistical service of the Ministry of Labor. A substantial revaluation, certainly, but less than the annual inflation rate in 2022, which reached 6%.
A salary envelope inflated by +4.5% in 2023
Faced with persistent social unrest, this trend should continue in the coming year. Companies would thus anticipate an increase in their compensation package of 4.5% on average in 2023, reveals a survey by the human resources consulting firm Alixio, published Thursday, April 13 (1).
Good news for employees? Only halftone: this increase, higher than that of 2022, remains below the bar of the annual inflation rate, anticipated at 5.4% for the year 2023 by the Banque de France. Result: the real wage will continue to decrease.
The study also reveals that these increase intentions are lower than those envisaged by employers in December 2022: 95% of them then anticipated increases of more than 3%, compared to 57% three months later. .
For Philippe Vivien, vice-president of Alixio, this moderation is explained by “the anticipation of a deceleration of inflation in the coming year by companies”. “In December, one in two companies expected inflation to be over 6% in 2023,” he points out. Now, 77% of them think it will be between 4 and 6%. »
Consequence: the latter remain cautious about the increase in wages, “which they do not always manage to pass on in their selling prices”. They want to avoid triggering the famous “wage-price” loop, a phenomenon where the increase in remuneration feeds the acceleration of inflation.
Slight increase in general increases for non-executives
Will employees share the same point of view? “The wage policies of 2022 have made it possible to partially preserve purchasing power, and therefore to ensure a certain social peace”, continues Philippe Vivien.
In 2023, companies will maintain the use of general salary increases for non-executives (+ 3.6%, after + 3.4% in 2022), favored by the unions because they are egalitarian, rather than individual increases (+ 1 .8% in 2023, compared to +2.2% in 2022).
For their part, the executives will observe a slight drop compared to the increases of 2022. However, the increases anticipated in 2023 remain “at very significant levels”, according to the vice-president of Alixio, in particular on the side of the general increases ( + 2.5% in 2023, after + 2.7% in 2022), “a practice that had largely disappeared over the past fifteen years”.
The firm also observes significant use of the value-sharing bonus (“Macron bonus”): 48% of companies plan to pay it this year, for an average amount of €1,000. “It particularly appeals to young employees, or those passing through, who prefer a ‘plus’ granted immediately rather than a long-term increase”, emphasizes Philippe Vivien.
Employers, on the other hand, risk having their hands tied on hiring wages. Currently, more than 60% of them are having difficulty recruiting, according to a study published last week by Pôle emploi. A situation which obliges them to revalue the remuneration of the positions to be able to remain attractive on a labor market in tension.
For Philippe Vivien, “this constraint could pose problems in terms of internal inequity”, enough to fuel the social uproar. It also encourages employees to go see if the grass is greener elsewhere.
“But the French labor market is not that of the United States”, assures the vice-president of the consulting firm, in reference to the American “Great resignation”, a phenomenon of mass departures of workers since the spring of 2021. “ In France, the mechanisms of collective agreements make it possible to retain and retain employees, for example via the seniority bonus. »