The insurance industry is forecasting higher salary increase budgets than all other industries in all employee categories for 2010, according to a survey from the Conference Board, New York.

The forecasted increase for insurance is 3.5%, says the report.

By comparison, the communications industry is reporting the lowest salary increase forecasts in all employee categories, says the Conference Board’s Annual Salary Increase Budgets Survey. This forecast for that group is for 2.5%.

Conducted in April 2009, the survey contacted 291 companies.

The median salary increase budget forecast for 2010 for all companies will average 3%, down 0.5 % from this year, the Conference Board found.

The survey uses the term “salary increase budgets” to refer to the pool of money an organization dedicates to salary increases for the coming year. Generally, it is represented as a percentage of current payroll.

In 2009, companies made downward adjustments in their salary increases as the economy worsened, the researchers say. The median salary increase budgets dropped from 3.5% to 2.5% for all employee categories except executive, which fell from 3.5% to 1.5%).

The typical employer is still budgeting for salary increases ahead of inflation in 2010, the researchers say, noting that the Conference Board projects a 2% inflation rate for 2010/