Post from Allison Dickin, Senior Research Associate, Public Affairs Research at Harris Interactive
We all know the economy has been in trouble for a while now, and working Americans’ confidence in the overall economy and in their own personal employment situations over the last several months provides strong evidence that they’ve been paying attention.
According to the Spherion Employee Confidence Index, calculated based on data from surveys we have conducted monthly since July 2004, employees’ overall confidence in the economy, their employers, and the job market has declined fairly steadily since back in January 2007, when it reached an all-time high of 60.5. With a few exceptions, over the course of the last 26 months, the Index has continued to drop, reaching an all-time low of 40.1 in February 2009. With everything that’s been going on in the U.S. and around the world over the past year or so (i.e., foreclosures, layoffs, bailouts, major financial meltdowns, etc.), this is hardly a surprise.
The good news, however, is that we’re seeing some signs that things might be beginning to turn around. President Obama has said the U.S. economy is showing glimmers of hope, the stock market has had some good days recently, and Goldman Sachs just announced a profit and hopes to begin repaying its bailout money.
Additionally, in March, the Spherion Employee Confidence Index began to rebound. The increase was small, but in March 2009, the index rose 1.3 points to 41.4. The past month’s survey also showed:
- A slight decline in the percentage of employees who think the economy is getting weaker (68% vs. 70% in February);
- A slight increase in employees’ confidence in the future of their current employers (66% vs. 63% in February); and,
- A rise in the percentage of working Americans who say they are likely to look for a new job in the coming year (36% vs. 33% in February).
These changes are small, to be sure, and the Spherion Index has seen improvements like this in the past, only to have them matched by a drop in the following month. But what do you think? Is it possible our economy is starting down the road to recovery? How do you think the Employee Confidence Index will change in April?