Workers More Confident About Jobs

New York — June 17

American workers are showing greater confidence regarding their jobs, with growing optimism toward the prospects of receiving improved health care and retirement benefits and a salary increase. But this positive sentiment is counterbalanced by raised expectations of more work for the same pay and concern about being replaced by a lower cost employee. These positive and negative shifts effectively cancel one another out, resulting in May’s aggregated concerns holding steady in comparison to April (57 percent each) and remaining slightly up from March (56 percent). These are among the findings of the May Harris Poll Jobs and Benefits Security Index, which provides a score that is measured monthly to track the changing sentiment of American workers.

The Harris Poll Jobs and Benefits Security Index offers an internal view into today’s American workplace by reporting on the job/benefits security pulse of the worker. The online survey of 1,192 American workers was conducted between May 20 and 22.

U.S. workers display growing hope that they will see improvements in their benefits in the near future. Workers show an increased belief that they will receive better health care benefits in the next three months (20 percent, up from 16 percent each in April and March) and that they will receive better retirement benefits in that time (19 percent, up from 13 percent in April and from 18 percent in March). Workers also show slight growth from April in the perceived likelihood that they’ll get a raise from their employer in the next three months (from 29 percent in April to 32 percent in May), though this is still down slightly from the March level (34 percent).

Much like the U.S. Department of Labor’s May Jobs report, which finds a higher-than-anticipated number of new jobs offset by a slight uptick in the unemployment rate as more people begin to actively look for a job, the index similarly finds brighter outlooks on benefits and salary counterbalanced by rising fears of either being replaced or having to pick up additional work with no commensurate pay increase:
• Eighteen percent of U.S. workers — up from 15 percent in April — believe that they will be replaced by a lower-cost employee.
• Workers are also increasingly afraid that they will have to work more without getting more money (56 percent, up from 53 percent in April and 50 percent in March).

Worsening worker fears on these core statements show ties to stated expectations that they will see responsibilities passed to either technological or manpower alternatives in the immediate future. Nearly half of U.S. workers (45 percent) anticipate that the next three months will find at least some of their job or responsibilities being replaced by one or more of a series of factors.

Technology (15 percent) and a co-worker taking over their responsibilities (14 percent) are the top perceived redundancies, followed by a lower cost employee within their company (12 percent) and temporary employees (11 percent). Younger employees (those 18-34) appear to feel particularly vulnerable to such efficiencies. This age group is most likely to believe at least one factor will replace some of their job or responsibilities in the next three months (57 percent). This is specifically seen with regards to technology (21 percent) or temporary employees (17 percent) replacing at least some of their responsibilities.

Source: Harris Interactive