Randstad US: Employee Confidence Levels Remain High After Strong Economic Performance in Q4

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, January 29th, 2016

According to the Q4'15 Randstad US Employee Confidence Index, more than one-third of workers (34%) believe more jobs are available and nearly six in 10 (55%) indicate they are confident in their ability to find a new job. The Randstad US ECI, calculated from the results of an

online survey among over 2,000 adults and conducted by Harris Poll, measures employed workers' perceptions regarding the overall strength of the economy, availability of jobs and personal employment prospects. While the U.S. ECI dipped slightly from 61.8 in Q3'15 to 61.6 in Q4'15, overall confidence levels remained near record high since the survey's inception in 2004.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' October 2015 employment report kicked off the fourth quarter by delivering one of the strongest overall jobs reports in many months. Businesses hired new workers at the fastest pace of the year, adding 307,000 new jobs in October. Long-awaited improvement came for workers' pay as it rose at the fastest year-over-year pace since the U.S. emerged from the recession in mid-2009. November and December saw more of the same momentum, adding 252,000 and 292,000 new jobs, respectively.

Beyond the strong hiring activity and the lowest unemployment rate in more than seven years, there are other signs the labor market is beginning to tighten. Long-term unemployment declined by two-thirds as of November since hitting its peak in 2010. Also, at the end of November, 7.9 million Americans were unemployed, down 1.1 million year-over-year. However, economists say many companies are finding it more difficult to fill positions, and government data shows that job openings are taking longer to fill.

"There is no question the battle for talent will grow in 2016 as the labor market continues to tighten," said Jim Link, chief HR officer, Randstad North America. "This year, the big story will be wage growth and potential minimum wage increases. Although we've seen moments of improved wage growth, the big picture shows wages have been stagnant for most workers over the last many years. For minimum wage workers, despite efforts to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, it remains to be seen if it will come to fruition. However, we already see many states and cities taking matters into their own hands and raising minimum pay rates. In fact, 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, and nearly two dozen cities and counties have set their own higher minimum wages."

Link continued, "We are advising our clients and partners to prepare for the impact of these minimum wage increases, because the reality is nearly 3 million people currently make minimum wage and another 20.6 million are 'near-minimum-wage' workers. Historically, low unemployment means employers have to work harder at finding quality talent, while existing workers have more confidence and options to change jobs in an employees' market. As our ECI findings drive home, this year workers reported their highest confidence levels in 11 years. For any organization that employs or competes with the minimum wage or near-minimum-wage pool, change is imminent."

Even for beyond minimum-wage workers, competition is expected to drive wages across the board higher. A byproduct of a healthier economy that continues to add jobs, employers who need to keep payroll expenses contained must increase how much they pay their workers to avoid losing them. In fact, for every extra $1 a company spends each month in payroll, it could get back anywhere from $4 to $28 in monthly sales, according to a study by professors at MIT, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, and others.