U.S workers fear for their jobs as Indian salaries boom

2008

A third of American firms are considering freezing their hiring or even cutting staff as the financial turmoil following the sub-prime mortgage-led credit crunch starts to bite ever more deeply.

Yet at the same time across the globe their counterparts in India are revelling in record pay rises.

Figures from the U.S. Labor Department have shown a slowdown in hiring activity in December, although this is traditionally one of the slower months for hiring anyway.

There were 4.6 million new hires hired during the month, down from a peak of 5.1 million in July 2006, and 4.04 million job openings, down from 4.4 million at the same point a year ago.

The employment consultancy Mercer has also warned that firms are starting to take "a harder line on adding staff", with job-seekers finding it harder to switch jobs too.

A study by consultancy Spherion has concluded that overall worker job confidence fell for the sixth consecutive month in a row in January, and was now at its lowest level since the survey started in 2004.

The survey of 3,137 employed adults showed that 16 per cent of workers believed there were more jobs available, down from 19 per cent in December.

Just nine per cent of workers believed the economy was getting stronger in January, down from 12 per cent in December.

But while American workers are suffering, their counterparts in India are laughing all the way to the bank.

Fuelled by a booming economy, growing at between 8-9 per cent, Indians are now enjoying some of the highest salary hikes in the world.

Salaries were expected to rise by 15.2 per cent this year, against 15.1 per cent last year, according to a survey by consultancy Hewitt Associates.

The pace of economic growth rate was giving employees greater career opportunities than ever before, while employers were increasingly using compensation as way to attract and retain key workers, said Sandeep Chaudhary, leader of Hewitt's rewards consulting practice in India.

But he also predicted the annual increase in salary might come down and stabilise to between 9-10 per cent by 2012.

And, in perhaps the quirkiest survey of the week, fewer than a tenth of U.S. workers, meanwhile, have said that if their job was a person they would love it enough to marry it.

While four out of 10 of the 1,215 workers surveyed by research firm Taleo said their relationship with their job was "OK", a third, perhaps worryingly, said they liked their job enough to date it.

A total of five per cent hated their job and would break up with it immediately if it were a person, the survey added.