The economy is improving and unemployment is at its lowest point since the financial crash, but wages remain relatively flat.

A new survey of 1,500 large and mid-sized employers conducted by HR consulting firm Mercer shows that the average corporate budget designated for pay raises will only be 2.9 percent next year. That's barely an increase from last year's 2.8 percent budgets.

However, the study reaffirms past evidence that pay raises are increasingly linked to performance, rather than tenure. While across-the-board wage hikes are on the decline, those identified at top performers in workplaces can expect bigger pay raises than in the past.

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