Survey: US Worker Gloom Still Holding

November 11, 2003 ( - Recent signs of life from the long-slumbering domestic economy aside, a dark cloud of pessimism continues to hang over many workers, according to a new survey.

According to a Right Management Consultants’ news release, the survey found a quarter of respondents with the belief they could be laid off in the next 12 months and more than eight of 10 (84%) predicting a laid-off worker would have a tough time lining up a comparable gig. Overall, the Right Career Confidence Index dipped by a tick to 44.3, down from 44.5 in Right’s most recent survey earlier this year.

“The level of deep pessimism we first measured in American workers last March has barely lifted,” said Richard Pinola, Right chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Despite the fact that the economy has begun to recover, the job market continues to lag behind and that is making American workers gloomy about their career prospects.” Recent government reports indicate a healthy job creation in the last few months along with a continuing drop in the number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits.

According to the Right announcement, the number of workers fearing a layoff dipped slightly from 26.6% in March 2003, but was up significantly from the 20% discovered a year ago.

Workers were also slightly more negative than they were in the March survey about the likelihood of replacing a lost job. Employees earning less than $25,000 were slightly more optimistic about finding comparable positions, while workers earning $75,000 or more were slightly more pessimistic about job replacement prospects.

The job market gloominess was not confined to the United States, either. Right Management Consultants also surveyed workers in 16 other countries. Those in the United Kingdom were the most pessimistic about the possibility of losing their job, with nearly 30% saying it was a possibility. German workers were the gloomiest about replacing a lost job; 96% said it would be difficult to find another job at the same pay.

The US survey included an additional question about the likelihood of being promoted. Young workers and black workers were among the most likely to feel optimistic about moving up in their current jobs. Among workers aged 55 to 64, only one out of four thought moving up was possible, compared to the 49% of respondents overall who said upward career mobility was possible.

The Career Confidence Index is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 350 to 1,000 fulltime workers in each country, based on country size. Workers were surveyed in: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.