The scoop on U.S. worker confidence

February 6, 2013

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In the early days of 2013, January 3, to be exact, Randstad released the results of its December U.S. Employee Confidence survey that painted a rosy picture heading into the new year. The Confidence Index was 55.4, one of the highest levels of optimism recorded in 2012.

The Index, which measures employee insights on jobs, the economy, and their personal employment situation, found more workers believe the economy is not only getting stronger, but more jobs are available.

That was then. February 1, Randstad released its findings for January that indicate workers are more concerned about jobs and the economy as the index decreased 3.3 points in January to 52.1. Granted, the index has remained about 50.0 for the past year, but what’s to blame for this decline that’s steeper than any month-to-month comparison in 2012? Care to guess?

Commenting on the decline, Randstad US Managing Director Jim Link said, “Many economists and other widely cited confidence indices, such as the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, point to the increase in payroll taxes having an effect on workers’ sentiment. It is possible this tax hike could dampen consumer confidence for the near future and our findings are clearly showing an impact on January’s numbers.”

January to December comparisons show that in January, 26 percent of employees indicated the economy is getting stronger, down five percentage points from December; 53 percent believe there are fewer jobs available, compared to 46 percent in December; and in January, 43 percent believe they could find a new job compared to 49 percent in December.

Was it simply the shock of less take home pay, or are other factors at play in determining employee confidence? Could it be the continuing debt debate? A seemingly bullish stock market that now has corporate insiders bailing on the DOW just as individual investors are returning? Rising food and gas prices? All of the above and more?

The nation’s economy continues to be in flux; ergo, the confidence of the workers who make up the nation also will be in flux. Until the debt issue is resolved and jobs grow significantly and consistently, I think we can expect employee confidence to be tepid at best.

An optimist by nature, I’ve seen my own confidence, at least in the economy and our ability to bounce back, diminished. How confident are you in your job and the economic future? I wonder how postal workers would respond to the Randstad survey.

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Vicki Bell

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