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Worker Confidence is Up, Up, and Away!

More employees are concerned about job loss, but those with security are feeling flush.

By The Editors

Worker confidence continued its upward trend in the first quarter of 2017. The Worker Confidence Index (WCI) from HRO Today and Yoh Recruitment Process Outsourcing reports an increase to the highest level since the study’s inception in 2014, up 3.1 points to 107.6 in the first quarter, which is 10.9 points higher than one year ago. Two of the four components of the WCI—the likelihood of promotion and likelihood of a raise—rose by more than nine points in the first quarter of 2017, while job stability and trust in leadership slightly declined. 

However, there is a dichotomy in worker confidence. Those feeling secure about their jobs are thriving, but an increasing percentage (up 3.3 points from last year) of workers are concerned about losing their job. There is a consistent upward trend among both males and females that the feeling of a lob loss is likely. Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 years old were the least secure, reporting the biggest increase in concern about job loss in the first quarter of 2017. Those workers under the age of 45 reported the highest concern about job security and the most educated respondents felt the least secure about their job stability in the first quarter of 2017. Females continue to report higher levels of confidence in their job security than men, as only 9.9 percent of females compared to 13.7 percent of males thought a job loss was likely. Despite the historic trend of those with the lowest incomes being most concerned with their job security, the first quarter of 2017 showed that survey participants making more than $75,000 annually were the most insecure about their job stability. In general, minorities tend to anticipate job loss more than whites. 

In contrast to the increased concern about job security reported in the first quarter, the index measuring the likelihood of a promotion climbed another 11.3 points up to 115.1 from 103.8 in the fourth quarter of 2016 and more than 17 points since the first quarter of 2016. Study results show that men are consistently more optimistic about receiving promotions than women. However, in the first quarter of 2017, the gap between men and women’s expectations of a promotion was at its highest at 10.2 points. There remains a strong negative correlation between age and promotion, where the older one gets, the less optimistic one is about the likelihood of promotion. Those with the highest incomes were the most optimistic about their chance of a promotion. In addition, whites were much less likely than African Americans or Hispanics to anticipate a promotion. Despite having the highest concern about job stability, those with a college degree had the greatest optimism about receiving a promotion.

But those with job security are feeling positive about the prospects for a raise. Almost one-third (30 percent) of respondents indicated they’d get a raise of at least 3 percent after their next review, increasing 6.1 percentage points since 2016. Males were more likely than females to anticipate getting a raise, 36.7 percent compared to 25.3 percent respectively. The gap between male and female expectations about getting a raise has more than doubled since the third quarter of 2015, although it held steady in the first quarter of 2017. As income increases, so does the belief in the likelihood of a raise. Those with at least $100,000 annual household income are the most inclined to think they’ll get a raise, while those making under $35,000 are the least optimistic. The gap between high-income and low-income workers could be widening. Research results also shows that as age increases after 35, the belief there will be a raise of at least 3 percent after the next review declines steadily. As employees get older, more and more theyfeel that what they make today is what they’ll make tomorrow.

Trust in company leadership edged downward by one point since last quarter, and it now stands at 44  percent of study participants who trust their company’s leadership. Overall, men are more likely than women to trust company leadership. With age, the trust in leadership declines steadily. The study found that the younger the respondent, the more confidence in the company leadership. Education also plays a role; respondents with a college education are more likely to trust their leadership.

Despite low unemployment, high job security, high consumer confidence, and good corporate earnings reports, the economy is sluggish, with consumers and businesses hesitant to spend.

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