Worker Confidence Hits New Low

Survey cites news of sluggish economy and poor job market.

A monthly employee survey shows overall worker confidence has reached its lowest level since the index began nearly four years ago. Spherion Corp.'s Employee Confidence Index dropped 1.9 points to 46.6 in March, with only 6% of workers saying they believe the economy is getting stronger.

"Across the nation, there has been a marked slowdown in new job creation, and workers are clearly feeling the impact of this and other overall news suggesting a sluggish economy," says Roy Krause, president and CEO of recruiting and staffing firm Spherion.

At the same time, 53% of the 3,726 respondents say they remain confident in their ability to find a new job, unchanged from February, and 77% of workers believe it's unlikely they'll lose their jobs in the next year.

"Even though workers are not confident about the state of the job market and economy, the majority still has a positive sentiment about their personal employment situation and don't believe they will be laid off," Krause says. "While it may seem contradictory, the fact is that workers of all types have very high levels of confidence in their own abilities and future prospects regardless of the macroeconomic situation -- a trend which has remained constant since the survey started."

Employees may start feeling a little more upbeat about their prospects as the looming skilled worker shortage becomes reality.

"While some employers believe they now have the upper hand in the job market, the talent shortage remains a very real problem for those employers who are creating new jobs, backfilling positions or trying to retain their current workforce," Krause says. "The high levels of confidence, coupled with workers' dissatisfaction with their work situations, will lead to costly turnover - even in a down economy. Workers of all types, and especially those with college educations and professional skills, remain in the driver's seat."

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