According to a recent survey released by management consulting firm Hay Group and the Chain Restaurant Compensation Association (CRCA), the restaurant industry is lifting the salary increase freeze that took hold for the last two years. According to the survey of 39 CRCA organizations, no organization is reporting a complete freeze for the upcoming year.

The research was conducted in December and gathered 2011 budget information. The projected increase budget was 3 percent for all employee groups, indicating that the restaurant industry is on par with general industry projections, which average 2.8 percent.

The study also shows a significant jump in increase budgets over last year: approximately 30 percent of chain restaurant participants last year reported a freeze, bringing the median budget down to 2.0 percent, which includes organizations not providing increases.

"It is comforting to see that chain restaurant companies are planning to provide base salary increases this year. The restaurant industry was hit extremely hard during the recession, and this data shows that chain restaurants have the resources to invest in increasing the base salaries of their staff," said Tom McMullen, vice president and North American Reward Practice leader of Hay Group. "After three very difficult years, including pay cuts, layoffs, benefits reductions and limited pay increases, restaurant organizations recognize that they need to re-engage their work force, and a key part of that is in putting their money where their mouth is."

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