Absenteeism in 2011 Running Below Lows of 2009; Upward Trend in Turnover is Modest by Size, Industry, Region

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Absenteeism in 2011 has thus far eclipsed the record lows observed in 2009. Median rates of unscheduled absence (excluding long-term absences and partial days out) averaged just 0.6 percent of scheduled worker days during the third quarter of this year, compared with 0.7 percent in both the previous quarter and the third quarter of 2010, according to BNA's 3rd Quarter Job Absence & Turnover Report, published this week.

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Through the first nine months of 2011, median absence rates averaged 0.6 percent of scheduled worker days, down from levels recorded for January through September of 2010 (0.8 percent) and 2009 (0.7 percent).

"When the economy is as volatile as it has been, people are much for apt to make the effort to come to work when they aren't feeling well," said BNA Surveys Director Matthew Sottong. "There has always been a correlation between high unemployment and low absenteeism, and this survey bears that out."

The survey also finds that:

Job Absence

  • Declines in absenteeism were sharpest among the largest employers. The nine-month average of median absence rates for 2011 fell five-tenths of a point from a year earlier in organizations with 1,000 to 2,499 employees (from 1.1 percent to 0.6 percent) and three-tenths of a point among establishments with 2,500 or more workers (from 1.4 percent to 1.1 percent). Enterprises with fewer than 250 employees experienced a more modest decline in job absence through September (from 0.7 percent to 0.6 percent), while the nine-month average was unchanged from 2010 in companies with 250 to 499 workers (0.7 percent). Mid-sized companies, with 500 to 999 employees, bucked the overall downward trend. The nine-month median absence rate among those firms rose from 0.4 percent in 2010 to 0.7 percent in 2011.
  • Regionally, the absence rate through September was down most sharply in the Northeast (from 1.0 percent in 2010 to 0.7 percent in 2011). In the South, there was a two-tenths of a point drop from 2010 to 2011 (from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent), with a smaller decline (from 0.7 percent to 0.6 percent) in the North Central region. In contrast, unscheduled job absences through September climbed slightly from 2010 levels among Western employers (from 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent).


  • Employee turnover remains largely on the upswing. Median monthly separation rates (excluding layoffs, reductions-in-force, departures of temporary staff) averaged 0.9 percent of employers' workforces per month during the third quarter, up from 0.7 percent in the previous quarter, unchanged from the third quarter of 2010, but well above the level recorded for July-to-September of 2009 (0.6 percent).
  • Through September, median turnover rates averaged 0.8 percent of the workforce per month, compared with 0.7 percent a year ago and just 0.5 percent through the first nine months of 2009. The median turnover rate outpaced the figure recorded a year earlier in four of the last five months. The median turnover rate fell slightly from 0.9 percent in June to 0.8 percent in July, and rose to 1.0 percent in August before falling back to 0.9 percent in September.
  • Analysis of monthly turnover rates by industry, workforce size, and region indicate only modest changes in employee attrition from a year ago. On the other hand, employee turnover thus far in 2011 is markedly higher than in 2009 across virtually all industrial, size, and regional classifications. (A sputtering economy and weak job market helped plunge turnover rates to historic lows in 2009.)
  • Through the first nine months of 2011, employee turnover outpaced 2010 levels among both the smallest and largest surveyed employers. The year-to-date average of median turnover rates climbed two-tenths of a percentage point from a year earlier among establishments with fewer than 250 employees (to 0.3 percent per month), as well as among enterprises with 1,000 to 2,499 workers (to 1.1 percent). The nine-month average edged up slightly among the organizations with 2,500 or more employees (from 0.8 percent to 0.9 percent), while monthly attrition through September held steady among companies with 500 to 999 workers (at 0.9 percent) and declined a bit (from 0.9 percent to 0.8 percent) in firms with 250 to 499 employees.
  • In all regions but the West, employee departures through September ran above levels recorded for the first nine months of 2010. The year-to-date average climbed two-tenths of a point from a year earlier among Southern employers (from 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent) and one-tenth of a point in the Northeast (from 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent) and the North Central region (0.6 percent to 0.7 percent). The nine-month average held steady at 0.7 percent in the West.

This survey is conducted quarterly among a panel of human resource executives representing organizations throughout the United States. Of the 384 employers responding in time for tabulation of this survey, 51 percent have fewer than 250 workers, 15 percent have workforces of 250 to 499 employees, 13 percent employ 500 to 999 workers, 9 percent have workforces of 1,000 to 2,499 employees, and 12 percent employ at least 2,500 workers. By industry, 26 percent of the organizations are manufacturing companies, 50 percent are nonmanufacturing firms, and 24 percent are nonbusiness establishments. By region, 20 percent of the employers are located in the Northeast, 35 percent are in the South, 31 percent operate in the North Central states, and 14 percent are located in the West. Total employment of the reporting organizations: 716,907.

About BNA

BNA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bloomberg L.P., is a leading source of legal, regulatory, and business information for professionals. Our network of more than 2,500 reporters, correspondents, and leading practitioners delivers expert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance — the information that matters most to professionals. BNA's authoritative coverage spans the full range of legal practice areas, including tax & accounting, labor & employment, intellectual property, banking & securities, employee benefits, health care, privacy & security, human resources, and environment, health & safety. www.bna.com




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