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Americans More Optimistic About Employment Situation

Is the jobs pictureimproving? For more people, it feels like it. A couple of surveys and government data suggest more Americans are willing to quit their jobs.

Quit? In this economy?

Randstad, a human resources firm, has a monthly Employee Confidence Index that started moving up three

Leland Bobbe | Stone | Getty Images

months ago. It hit 48 in November versus 45.6 the month before — not yet at the breakeven level of 50, but getting close.

At the same time, Randstad says the percentage of U.S. workers who believe the economy is getting weaker fell below 50 percent in November, to 45 percent.

More workers believe they won't be fired, the survey shows. One in three plans to change jobs in 2012.

Then there's another Harris Survey done for software management company Cornerstone OnDemand, which suggests that 15 percent of Americans will change jobs over the next 12 months. That's 21 million job changes.

How many have been hanging on to jobs they hate because they have no choice? Will they go in style like this guy?

Bring in a marching band, like this guy?

Cornerstone claims all this turnover could cost companies more than $2 trillion in recruiting and retraining. However, that figure is based on a Deloitte study that claims companies can spend two to three years' salary to replace high value workers. If 21 million people really change jobs in the next year, it's not clear how many of them are highly valuable.

Finally, even government data suggest people are more willing to "take this job and shove it." The Bureau of Labor Statistics says for much of the last few years layoffs outnumbered voluntary separations. That began changing a year ago.

In September, the latest figures available, 49 percent of job separations were voluntary "quits," while 42 percent were layoffs. The rest included things like retirements.

Those who stay on the job expect to be rewarded. Glassdoor.com says its survey of American workers reveals that 58 percent of them expect a bonus this year...and they'd prefer cash.

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