NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Despite the recent uptick in the economy, employers are still squeamish about rewarding employees with generous year-end bonuses, according to a report published Tuesday.
USA Today, citing results of a survey by human resources firm Hewitt Associates, said two-thirds of companies won't offer a holiday bonus this year.
Separately, only a quarter of employees said incentive payments such as annual bonuses would be larger in 2003 than they were in 2002, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
"It's a little more pessimistic than we expected, and it's a dramatic turnaround from what we saw several years ago," Steven Gross at Mercer told USA Today. "The recovery hasn't been as robust as companies expected."
The report said companies are taking their cues from the labor market. A 6 percent jobless rate means employers don't need to shower bonuses on workers to keep them. At the same time, companies are still struggling to meet earnings expectations without raising prices.
But while some workers get only a nominal amount for a bonus, others rely on yearly payouts for a financial boost, the newspaper said. For executives, incentive payouts can be as high as 35 percent of base salary. For hourly workers, they are closer to 5 percent of annual pay.
If the economic recovery continues, most companies expect bonuses to be higher next year, the report said.