About your job

November 17, 2010
By: Vicki Bell

The November "Tube Talk" e-newsletter featured excerpts from a Money magazine article "Make Money in 2011: Your Job." If this article's hypothesis is correct, those of you who are employed might have cause to worry less about losing your jobs, and your employers might have reason to worry more about hanging on to valuable workers. According to the article, "if you’ve made it this far into the toughest job market in decades without being laid off, chances are you're out of the danger zone. 

"'While businesses may not be hiring a whole lot next year, they won't be firing a whole lot either,' said economist Joel Naroff. 

"Most economists agree that the worst is behind us, and that new job creation will pick up modestly as the year wears on. But worries about the slowpoke economy and the possibility of a double dip will keep companies from adding enough positions to make a serious dent in joblessness. 

"The consensus among 46 forecasters recently surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics is that the unemployment rate will end 2011 around 9.2%, from 9.6% now. It'll take another six years for unemployment to get back to pre-recession levels, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. 

"Still, if you're a valued employee, the outlook is much brighter, as employers will focus on retaining and developing top talent rather than new hiring. 

"'Raises are back and for good reason,' said Catherine Hartmann, a principal with Mercer's rewards consulting business. "The risk of losing key employees is top of mind as the economy recovers.' 

 "Nearly all companies intend to increase salaries this year — by an average of 3%, according to Buck Consultants —- and to reward the best and the brightest with pay hikes nearly double the going rate. More employees can look forward to bonuses, too, with the amounts awarded going up."

This article covers the overall jobs picture and doesn'’t provide a breakdown by industry. "Tube Talk" asked its readers if  the information accurately depicted employment in the metal tube and pipe producing and fabricating sectors and whether they were less concerned about losing their job now than they were a year ago.  Do they expect raises in the coming year? 

In response to the newsletter, a reader who works for a company that specializes in the design, production, and testing of fluid delivery systems said, "This is good news, although I probably won't see a raise anytime soon as our employer was tight before the economy went south. He'll use the down economy excuse as long as he can to hold off raises or bonuses. 

"I do hold an important position in the company, and although I am thankful for still being employed, it gets old being told that [I am important]. If things don't turn for the better when the economy improves, I'll probably test the open market. 

"Thank you for the information, it does make me feel better regardless." 

An engineer who works for an international company that has nearly 15,000 employees in 27 countries simply said, "Excellent article on today's job market situation. I'm very glad to hear about this news. Thanks for sharing with me." Words that likely reflect a reduction in this reader's concern about losing his job and — possibly — increased optimism that raises and bonuses are on the horizon.

A recent CareerBuilder survey supports that optimism, more so for some sectors than others. Forty-five percent of IT employers say they are open to negotiating salary increases with current employees for 2011 followed by 39 percent in retail, 38 percent in sales, and 41 percent in professional and business services. Metal fabricating? I imagine raises in this and all sectors depend on how well a company is recovering from the downturn and how valuable an employee is to the organization. 

Employers surveyed by CareerBuilder cited the following as the most effective ways fo current employees to negotiate better compensation: 

  • Highlight specific accomplishments and results you achieved (48 percent)

  • Know the range of salary you want and have justification for the increase (39 percent)

  • Show an understanding of what is important to the company (37 percent)

  • Come prepared with your history of performance reviews (26 percent) 

At the end of the day, the message is: You can worry less about losing your job, and if you're doing an especially good job, you might be rewarded.  Maybe not the best of times, but not the worst either.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209