Employees seem to be more confident that the economy is doing better and that they could find a new job if they searched for one, according to a new study by Randstad Technologies. But, notwithstanding this confidence, workers are not trying to get better jobs.
"Virtually all US-based business sectors are in growth mode," said Chris Mader, director of corporate accounts for Randstad Technologies. One of the sectors he says that should generate confidence is the healthcare industry. "Not only are there more jobs than people for careers such as in nursing ... we must remember that the ACA (Affordable Healthcare Act) will be enacted in 2014," he says. "It creates an enormous opportunity for job seekers as companies must become compliant with all rules and regulations listed within the ACA."
Mader also says careers in information technology, accounting and finance, legal, office management and clerical jobs will be plentiful the last half of 2013.
Right now, the Randstad Employee Confidence index, a measure of employees’ confidence in the economy and their place in it, stands at 57. By itself this number won't tell much about employee confidence. "Index" numbers are based on a variety of factors — how workers feel about the economy and how well they think their company is doing.
Last June, Randstad measured employee confidence at 51.1. Since August 2012 it has been trending upward toward 57 where it now stands.
Randstad, a global HR services and staffing company based in the Netherlands, also looked at the confidence people have that they could find a job if they wanted how they feel about the health of the company where they currently work. This Personal Confidence Index found younger workers 18-34 and older workers 55+ were several index points higher in confidence than workers in the middle ages 45-55.
"This may be attributed to that fact that younger workers are generally more tech savvy and comfortable with change than middle-aged workers," Mader says.
He also thinks younger workers place more value on things like "pleasant working conditions" and "good training," which employers may be focusing on more. Older workers, on the other hand, look for more job stability, benefits and a convenient office location.
Sixty percent of those surveyed say they feel confident about the future of their current employers and 44 percent say they feel they could find a new job if they desired.
This should translate into more people thinking about transitioning to new jobs. But it isn't. The Transition Index — part of Randstad's survey that sampled 1,206 U.S. adults the beginning of April — measures how likely workers are to look for a new job, is not showing a commensurate rise in people looking to transition. More and more people are saying they are confident they could find a new job, but they are not planning to look for a new job.
Harris Interactive conducted Randstad's poll for them at the beginning of April. Harris also conducted a similar poll themselves later in April which sounded a bit more grim.
Harris's new "Poll Jobs and Benefits Security Index" found U.S. workers less optimistic than Randstad. In their two months of polling, Harris found the trend was negative.
The Harris Poll points to a rise in worker insecurity about their income, benefits and employability this past month. "Specifically, workers are more pessimistic about the likelihood of finding a job if they need to look for one," Al Angrisani, Harris Interactive President and CEO, says in a statement, "as well as the likelihood of seeing a benefits improvement."
More workers expected to do more work without getting more pay in the next three months (50 percent in March to 53 percent in April). More expected to have their salaries reduced (20 percent to 24 percent in April). Fewer expected to get raises and few expected better retirement benefits.
And, speaking to the Randstad Personal Confidence Index and Transition Index, the Harris poll found less workers believe if they were to go looking for a new job, that they would be able to find one (61 percent thought they could in March, but in April it was down to 55 percent).
The most concerned group, according to Harris was workers older than 55.
Part of the difference in confidence or security trends between the polls, according to the report from Harris, may have to do with the bombings in Boston, which occurred between the time both polls were taken.
Angrisani with Harris also sees structural changes in today's workplace with employers trying to squeeze more work out of their employees. Employers know hiring new employees costs more because of rising taxes and benefits costs. "Recruiting and hiring talent and new employees appears to have become a major investment consideration for employers," he says, "and this new phenomenon is contributing to an increase in job 'insecurity' within corporate America."
For now, in the middle of tentative confidence, there also appears to be a little bit of hedging on the part of workers.