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Not every employer
will select the same course of action in light of the current economic
situation. In fact some companies may decide to not decrease their merit
budgets at all.
Employers who do reduce their merit budgets may choose to give small, across the board increases in an attempt to be "fair" or they may choose to significantly reward only the top performers while giving good or average performers a small increase or no increase at all. Some employers may push out or delay increases until later in the year and some may impose a salary freeze.
It is reasonable, however, for you to ask your manager how your company plans to handle merit increases in the coming year and have an open dialogue about what to expect in the coming months.