Holiday cheer

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How good are these times for ad agencies? For those who like to quantify such things, they can count the ways in Advertising Age's annual Salary Survey Special Report published last week.

Raises for the ad agency rank-and-file are likely to average 6.6% in 2000, bettering the 6.4% average last year's survey predicted for 1999. Bonuses, according to survey

results, will average 8.3% of base pay for mainstream agency employees, up from a projected 7.9% a year ago. Hiring is up; total employment in the agency field is up. And all this happened in another year of change as clients and agencies continued to redesign compensation plans, and the old ways of computing the worth of agency services faded further into the past.

The Salary Survey figures not only certify what few dared predict at this time last year -- that 1999 would better a sparkling 1998 -- but the projections for 2000 are upbeat as well. So at the office party this month, there's ample reason for an extra round of holiday cheer, gratitude for the year gone by, solicitude for those in the business who did not share in its good fortune and bright hopes for the year ahead.