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Workers Feeling More Confident About Job Market: Survey

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As the unemployment rate continues to drop, however slowly, employees are feeling more confident about their prospects. That creates a new dynamic for workers and their employers, says Rusty Rueff, a career and workplace expert at Glassdoor, an online job community.

Confidence is rising and employees can consider other job possibilities, says Rueff, “so employers are realizing they have to do more to keep employees, or to attract new talent.”

Rueff says that, based on results of Glassdoor’s most recent Employment Confidence survey, there are a number of signals business owners are giving to employees to make them feel that job security is increasing.

“[Employees] are starting to see the picture sharpening, which industries are improving,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re in high-definition yet, but they are gaining in confidence.”

The Glassdoor survey, conducted in mid-March and spanning activity in the first quarter of 2012, found that just 13 percent of employees worked for companies that had initiated furloughs, unpaid leave or mandatory vacations. That is down from 18 percent in the previous quarter.

More telling numbers: The percentage of employees who said their employers communicated bonus reductions or eliminations was down to 10 percent, from 17 the previous quarter. And 40 percent said that health or dental benefits, and pay or perks that previously were cut had been restored. That was up from 38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

And 43 percent of employees said they expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, up from 38 percent at the end of 2011. That’s the highest number since the survey was begun in 2008

All this adds up to perhaps the biggest indication that employees are feeling more confident.

“Those kinds of numbers are reinforcing optimism,” said Rueff. “There are fewer people talking about reducing bonuses. The rhetoric is changing.”

Rueff says that employers are starting to realize it’s time to take care of the people who were affected most in the recession : employees. “They took the brunt of the cuts during the recession, and employers are realizing they can’t hold back any longer, or they will lose them. And they won’t be able to attract the best people.”

Glassdoor has been conducting quarterly surveys since the last quarter of 2008, as the recession was hitting its peak.

“We’ve found that employee confidence is a strong economic indicator,” said Reuff. “Employee confidence is precursor to consumer confidence.”

While confidence is up, employees are not entirely convinced the recovery is in full gear. One indication: 26 percent of employees said that employers had reduced health or dental benefits. That number is up dramatically from 17 percent last quarter.

“I think the health care act is the great unknown,” said Rueff. “Business owners don’t know what to expect, and don’t know what to do about offering benefits. I think that’s going to be an issue. Whether the Supreme Court approves it or not, no one knows what to expect, or what to do.”

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