New York, N.Y., – An online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Randstad from December 12-14, 2011 among 1,222 employed adults ages 18 and older in the U.S., reveals that the Randstad Employee Confidence Index slightly decreased by 0.6 points to 47.4 in December, indicating a slight decline in worker confidence. Overall, employee confidence levels in 2011 continued to hover around the 50.0 mark—indicating positive confidence. In fact, 2011 began with a slightly elevated Employee Confidence Index compared to previous years and remained above its historical low point of 40.1 in February 2009. The Index, which measures workers’ confidence in both their personal employment situation and sentiment in the economic environment, shows that more workers have remained optimistic about not only their job security, but also their personal employment situations.

On the same note, the 2011 index has somewhat mirrored the movement seen in many economic reports. Many businesses and consumers alike are feeling uncertain in terms of a recovery due to mixed economic signals and because of that, we have seen worker confidence ebb and flow throughout 2011. This report captures 2011 highlights as it relates to: job creation, public and private sector jobs, the temporary help services industry and the professional service sectors. In addition, the Randstad Employee Confidence and Employee Attachment Indices have been included to provide a snapshot of U.S. worker sentiments over the year and predictions for next year.

Additional highlights include:
  • 2011 confidence high-point: May (53.9); 2011 confidence low-point: August (41.0).
  • Job transition Index hit highest point ever in January 2011 (40 percent).
  • Job Security Index reached lowest point in August 2011 (66 percent).

“As we look back at 2011, we see that employees’ concerns changed throughout the year as the economy remained uncertain and employment situations across various industries contracted and expanded,” says Joanie Ruge, senior vice president and chief employment analyst of Randstad US. “Economic growth has remained relatively modest, posting gains in several key sectors, including engineering, IT, healthcare and even finance and accounting. Despite the slight pullback this month, overall temporary help services has continued to show increases, and we see this trend continuing into 2012. This past year has largely been associated with reports around economic uncertainty, and the U.S. presidential election and the European debt crisis have added to this sentiment. But let’s keep in mind that current economic conditions did not come about overnight, and it will take time to create the amount of jobs necessary to push
down unemployment. While I believe that we will see more job creation in the beginning of 2012; according to economists, the economy will remain vulnerable to possible setbacks due to reports around the global economy potentially entering a recession.”

A Look Inside the Report

2011 Job Creation:

  • Job creation continues to be slow but steady as an uncertain economy continues to recover.
  • 1.9 million jobs in the private sector were created in 2011.
  • Since December 2009, retail has continued to add jobs at an average rate of 14,000 jobs per month.*

2011 Private Sector:

  • Private sector jobs were up overall in 2011, with steady gains each month.
  • The private sector has now recovered 33 percent of jobs lost during the period of January 2008 to February 2010.*
  • Employment in the private sector has increased steadily each month, adding 1.9 million jobs during 2011.*

2011 Government Jobs:

  • Government agencies announced more than 280,000 job cuts in 2011.
  • Many public job cuts can be attributed to jobs lost in the U.S. Postal Service, and state and local governments.*
  • Employment in both state government and local government has been trending down since the second half of 2008.*

2011 Temporary Jobs:

  • Temporary help sector saw an uptick in the second half of 2011, averaging 15,000 jobs per month from July to November with a dip of 7,500 jobs in December.*
  • While overall temporary job numbers increased in 2011, involuntary part-time workers, or those employed part-time for economic reasons, dropped.*
  • Although still below 2000’s peak of more than two percent of the total workforce, the number of temporary workers in the U.S. labor market is trending upwards.**

2011 Professional & Business Services: 

  • Demand for jobs in the professional and business services sectors continues to increase.
  • Over the past 12 months, healthcare has added 315,000 jobs, for an increase of 2.3 percent in 2011.*
  • While professional service jobs in general were up, financial services cut more than 56,000 jobs in 2011.***
  • Engineering, Information technology and healthcare continue to be high-growth industries with low unemployment rates .

Predictions for 2012

Randstad’s Employee Attachment Index, measured quarterly, provides insights into how attached employees are to their employers based on employee engagement and retention. With the ups and downs of the economy, workers have mixed emotions for 2012. While 47 percent report being optimistic and almost three-fourths believe their companies have great futures, a sizeable 20 percent predict they will lose their job.

Other findings include:

  • 35 percent of employees reported that they are concerned their benefits will be reduced, while 48 percent predict it will happen in 2012.
  • 41 percent predict their companies will lay people off in 2012.
  • More workers are actually optimistic about 2012 with almost half (47 percent) predicting they will get a raise.
  • 40 percent predict their companies will expand their workforce in 2012.

Methodology for Randstad Employee Confidence

This survey was conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of Randstad between December 12 and 14, 2011 among a sample of 1,222 employed adults, aged 18 years and older. The survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, education, and region. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the U.S. adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Methodology for Randstad Employee Attachment Index

The Randstad Employee Attachment Index is comprised of findings from quarterly waves of research targeting employees. This is the third wave of research that has been fielded with a national sample of 3,022 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed full-time from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel. The survey was conducted between October 6 and 12, 2011. Weighting was used to balance demographics and ensure samples reflect the U.S. population of working adults. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage and measurement.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report
** Staffing Industry Analysts
*** ADP National Employment Report

For more info, contact Lesly Cardec, PR Manager via email or 800.422.3819.

About our Employment Report 
Learn more about Harris Interactive
Learn more about Ipsos