Cautious optimism in U.S. job market

2004

Americans feel more confident now about the job market than they have for two years, with three-quarters believing there is little or no likelihood that they will lose their jobs in the coming year.

But according to a survey of more than 1,000 fulltime workers by Right Management Consultants, Americans still believe the overall job market remains tight.

Despite their relative security about their own jobs, almost eight out of ten said it would be somewhat or very difficult for an out-of-work employee to find a comparably paying job.

Four out of ten also felt it would be very difficult to land a new job at similar pay.

For the first time since Right launched the Career Confidence Index two years ago, the percentage of American workers predicting a rise in the unemployment rate dropped below 70 per cent, to 65 per cent.

"In the two years since we have been tracking employee confidence levels, this is the most positive American workers have felt," said Right Management Consultants' Doug Matthews.

"The most noticeable shift this period has been a drop in the percentage of American workers who believe that unemployment will rise."

When asked how likely it was that their careers would advance at their current companies, workers were almost evenly split. Half said it was very or somewhat possible, while half said it was not very possible or not possible at all.

Among that latter group, almost one in three said there was no possibility of advancement.

Younger workers, and black and Hispanic workers, were more likely to report feeling optimistic about moving up at their present companies. Two-thirds of 18 – 34-year olds said job advancement was possible while six out of ten black and Hispanic workers also felt that moving up in their jobs was a possibility.

But as Doug Matthews pointed out: "Nearly half of American workers do not anticipate advancing with their current employers – and of those, nearly 30 per cent say there is no possibility of moving up at their companies."

"That may indicate a disengaged workforce, or employees who are looking to leave their current jobs."

"As the economy improves, more workers will begin looking to change jobs," he added.

"Wise managers know that they need to identify and develop the talent they want in place for the future, since those who feel most disenfranchised will be the most likely to leave."