British workers are the most pessimistic in the world about their job security but the confidence of American workers has reached an all-time high over the past six months.
That, at least, is the claim of a new survey by Right Management which suggests that it is fear of redundancy that is making Britons so miserable.
In contrast, some eight out of 10 Americans felt that there is little or no chance they will lose their jobs in the coming year – a marginal one per cent increase on May 2006.
What's more, a quarter of Americans felt it would be easy to find a similar job at the same pay if they were laid off, a five per cent rise since last May and the biggest vote of confidence in the U.S. jobs market that the annual survey of more than 9,000 workers in 18 countries has ever recorded.
The Global Career Confidence Index found three in ten UK employees feared redundancy in the coming year – the highest figure recorded across the 18 countries surveyed, and up nine percentage points since May, again the largest rise globally.
The number of British workers who believed it would be difficult to find alternative employment of a similar grade if they were made redundant had risen from 71 per cent six months ago to 77 per cent now.
Only France, Germany and Italy had less optimistic workers, but other than Korea, the UK was the only country where workers were less confident than they were in May, the index of more than 9,000 workers reported.
Out of a perfect confidence score of 100, the UK experienced the world's sharpest drop, falling 6.9 points to stand at just 45.3 points, significantly lower than the global average of 58.6.
Peter Coles, director at Right Management in the UK, said: "The drop may appear unusual with the UK economy remaining strong and the recruitment market relatively buoyant.
"However, the continuing restructuring of the labour market with the growth in outsourcing, particularly in the public sectors has led to increased uncertainty for many about their future job security.
"In addition many people feel they don't have the relevant experience for the new jobs being created," he added.
"But workers should remember the UK economy is in a much stronger position than many of its global counterparts," Coles continued.
"Good workers are always in demand, so it's as important as ever for employers to maintain the morale of employees, and regularly review their recruitment and retention strategies to identify and hold onto the best talent."
The Norwegians were the most optimistic in the world, with only four per cent of workers believing there was a chance they could lose their job in the coming year.
The country's confidence was likely to be linked to strong growth forecasts and falling unemployment rates. Japan and Denmark ranked second and third in the index.
South Korea saw the sharpest drop in confidence on a year on a year basis, as concerns following nuclear testing in neighbouring North Korea brought uncertainty.
A fall from 67.0 to 48.6 took Korea from being second most confident country in November 2005 to one of the least confident.
The UK replaced Germany as the lowest scoring country, but German workers were the most pessimistic in the world about finding a similar job at a comparable salary if laid off.
Just 6.3 per cent of German employees felt it would be easy to find a similar job if laid off.