Brits and Americans fear the axe


Workers in the U.S. and UK are among the most nervous in the world about their job prospects over the coming year, with almost a quarter worrying that they could face the axe as confidence levels plunge.

A global survey of more than 9,200 workers in 18 countries by Right Management Consultants has revealed big differences in confidence levels across the world, with workers in Japan, Korea, Demark and Norway the most confident about their job situations.

In Norway, only three per cent of workers say there is a possibility they could lose their job in the coming year, while only five per cent of Japanese and Danish workers say the same.

But while worker confidence levels rose in 13 countries around the world, it dropped in five – notably the U.S. , UK and Canada - where almost a quarter (24 per cent) of workers worry there is a chance they could lose their jobs in the next 12 months.

"This marks the third survey in a row in which a majority of countries around the world reported an overall gain in worker confidence levels, indicating a continuing upward trend in global worker confidence levels," said Doug Matthews, Group Executive Vice President at Right.

"But there are several countries that experienced a notable drop in worker confidence levels, the most dramatic being the UK, the U.S. and Switzerland."

Matthews said that Hurricane Katrina probably contributed to a drop in confidence levels in the U.S.

"My general sense is there's more cause for uncertainty and worry than there is for stability and optimism right now," he said.

Several countries experienced dramatic increases in worker confidence levels, most notably Japan, Korea and Denmark. Matthews noted that, consistent with the survey findings, the unemployment rate has dropped significantly in Japan over the last year.

U.S. workers were also particularly worried about their chances of finding another job at the same pay should the worst happen.

Eight out of 10 Americans said that landing a comparable role would be somewhat or very difficult, a degree of pessimism that was only deeper in five other countries - Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands.

German workers were the most pessimistic about their prospects, with 95 per cent saying it would be difficult to replace a lost job.