Is the Job Market Ready for Good News?

The Jobs Report for March was a positive one. I’ve tended to be overly optimistic about this downturn. I suspected the jobs would plummet, but I thought the rehiring would be swift. It hasn’t. So I’m trying to be cautious with my excitement about the March report. But here are some stats I think are noteworthy. They range from showing a growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor (an evaporating middle class), to job satisfaction numbers, to pointers showing an improved economy.

As Stephen J. Rose points out in his book “Rebound: Why America Will Emerge Stronger From the Financial Crisis,” when income is adjusted for family size, the percentage of prime-age American adults earning between $35,000 and $70,000 declined by 12 points between 1979 and 2007. But that’s largely because the percentage earning more than $105,000 increased by 14 points. Over the last 10 years, 60 percent of Americans made more than $100,000 in at least one of those years, and 40 percent had incomes that high for at least three.

2006 median household earned $48,201
1999 median household earned $49,244

Those with an income level between $12,500 and $20,000 have unemployment numbers of19.1% and 17.2% respectively. The point of the paper is to show that as income levels increase unemployment and underemployment levels drop to practically full employment levels (those with an income of $150,000 or more have numbers of 3.2% and 1.6%)–no-one-thought-it-was.aspx

Here’s my fun fact for the day, provided courtesy of Robert Litan, who directs research at the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in promoting innovation in America: “Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less,” said Litan. “That is about 40 million jobs. That means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.” “Roughly 25 percent of successful high-tech start-ups over the last decade were founded or co-founded by immigrants,” said Litan. Think Sergey Brin, the Russian-born co-founder of Google, or Vinod Khosla, the India-born co-founder of Sun Microsystems.

The “quits rate,” or frequency of people leaving jobs, is close to the lowest point since 2000, when the Labor Department began tracking the data. And workers’ willingness to quit without having another job lined up is well below the historic norms going back to the 1960s, according to a separate government reading.

An American Express survey found 54% of the general population willing to make significant concessions in the name of job security, including accepting pay cuts or even demotion.

Employment consultant Towers Watson found 86% of workers value job security and stability, topping the number of people who listed improved pay or career advancement as important to them. And while 43% of workers believe they have to leave their current employer in order to advance their career, only 12% of workers say they are looking to leave their current jobs.


    * 57% of workers didn’t get a raise last year
          o it was 35% in 2008
    * Those that did get a raise, 28% got an increase of 3% or less
    * 71% of workers didn’t get a bonus

Switching Industries:

    * 20% of workers plan to switch careers/fields in the next two years. The reasons:
          o 67% say they are seeking more interesting work
          o 54% say they want higher pay
          o 41% say they want career advancement
          o 36% say they want stability

    * Almost 25% say they don’t expect to be at their current job within a year
    * 45% of Americans say they are satisfied with their job
          o It was 61% in 1987 and it isn’t a cyclical occurrence

PMI, a measure of manufacturing pace, rose 3.1 points to 59.6. Anything above 50% means the machines are running. This is the highest it’s been since 2004

Worried about losing workers, 83% of large employers plan to give merit increases this year, up from 52% in 2009, says HR consulting firm Hewitt Associates.

The household survey, from which the unemployment rate is calculated, showed a gain during the first quarter of this year of 1.1 million jobs, the best performance since the spring of 2005.


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