U.S. employees are starting to see the effects of the economic recovery in their paychecks. The latest Mercer compensation report found that the average pay raise expected to be doled out in 2015 will be 3 percent, up from 2.7 percent in 2012.

For top performers, a category Mercer watches carefully, the average raise will be slightly higher than the 4.8 percent that group received in 2014. Top performers' pay hikes this year were well above the 2.6 percent granted to "average" performers and the 0.1 percent given to low-performing workers.

For all employees, the wage hikes have been granular as companies have slowly acknowledged that better economic indicators seem to have momentum. For instance, Mercer said the increases for the average worker have increased just 0.1 percent per year since 2012. The increases have been somewhat more generous for top talent as recruiting wars heat up.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.