Up to a third of employers have frozen pay this year, while the average pay increase was 2.9%, the Press Association has reported.
Research conducted by pay analysts IDS found workers in the motor industry, construction, chemicals, road and air transport and the media were most likely to be affected by pay freezes.
Meanwhile, pay increases were most likely to occur in energy, pharmaceutical, food retailing and finance sectors – but these sectors have also been badly affected by job cuts.
The report said: “In many cases, pay freezes have been justified through commitments to safeguarding jobs.”
Ken Mulkearn, a spokesman for IDS, said: “Most firms with zero awards in 2009 may return to increasing pay again next year. So while prospects for the economy remain uncertain, many firms will be planning ahead for a possible recovery in 2010.”
IDS added if inflation rose private sector pay was likely to increase by up to 3% – discounting City bonuses.