American Workers Feeling More Confident About Some Aspects of Jobs and Benefits Security

However many do not anticipate more hiring by their employers, as technological advancements and productivity gains change the landscape of the American workplace

Jun 17, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- American workers are showing greater confidence regarding their jobs, with growing optimism toward the prospects of receiving improved healthcare and retirement benefits and a salary increase. But this positive sentiment is counterbalanced by raised expectations of more work for the same pay and concern about being replaced by a lower cost employee. These positive and negative shifts effectively cancel one another out, resulting in May's aggregated concerns holding steady in comparison to April (57% each) and remaining slightly up from March (56%). These are among the findings of the May Harris Poll Jobs and Benefits Security Index, which provides a score that is measured monthly to track the changing sentiment of today's American workers.


The Harris Poll Jobs and Benefits Security Index offers an internal view into today's American workplace by reporting on the job/benefits security pulse of the worker. The online survey of 1,192 American workers was conducted between May 20 and 22, 2013 by The Harris Poll. (Full findings and data tables available here)

Benefits outlook brightens
U.S. workers display growing hope that they will see improvements in their benefits in the near future. Workers show an increased belief that they will receive better healthcare benefits in the next three months (20%, up from 16% each in April and March) and that they will receive better retirement benefits in that time (19%, up considerably from 13% in April and up slightly from 18% in March). Workers also show slight growth from April in the perceived likelihood that they'll get a raise from their employer in the next three months (from 29% in April to 32% in May), though this is still down slightly from the March level (34%).

Imminent efficiencies
Much like the U.S. Department of Labor's May Jobs report, which finds a higher-than-anticipated number of new jobs offset by a slight uptick in the unemployment rate as more people begin to actively look for a job, the index similarly finds brighter outlooks on benefits and salary counterbalanced by rising fears of either being replaced or having to pick up additional work with no commensurate pay increase:

  • 18% of U.S. workers - up from 15% in April – believe that they will be replaced by a lower cost employee.
  • Workers are also increasingly afraid that they will have to work more without getting more money (56%, up from 53% in April and 50% in March).

Worsening worker fears on these core statements show ties to stated expectations that they will see responsibilities passed to either technological or manpower alternatives in the immediate future. Nearly half of U.S. workers (45%) anticipate that the next three months will find at least some of their job and/or responsibilities being replaced by one or more of a series of factors.

Technology (15%) and a co-worker taking over their responsibilities (14%) are the top perceived redundancies, followed by a lower cost employee within their company (12%) and temporary employees (11%). Younger employees (those 18-34) appear to feel particularly vulnerable to such efficiencies. This age group is most likely to believe at least one factor will replace some of their job or responsibilities in the next three months (57%). This is specifically seen with regards to technology (21%) or temporary employees (17%) replacing at least some of their responsibilities.

Harris Interactive President and Chief Executive Officer Al Angrisani, also the former Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Reagan, finds that "The Harris Poll Jobs and Benefits Security Index is pointing to some renewed hope in key aspects of workers' outlooks for the immediate future, reflecting the improved jobs outlook recently released by the Department of Labor."

"That said," continues Angrisani, "the slight rise in the unemployment rate indicates that hiring continues to be an issue, as reflected in mounting concern among employees that they will be expected to do more for the same or less pay, or that their jobs will be displaced by lower cost options. Ultimately this increased pressure on the worker will lead to worker frustration and could dramatically impact company productivity overall."

Angrisani adds, "It is particularly interesting to note the age divide in job replacement fears. While younger generations are likely to be more technologically savvy, they are also more fearful of how technology may impact their future job prospects. A new economy could be one which values project-based workers who bring their own benefits packages to the table, just as they do their unique technology skills. This runs against the traditional model of a long term company employee with a full, company-provided benefits package."

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 20 and 22 among 2,341 adults (aged 18 and over) of whom 1,192 are employed full-time or part-time. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. 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 adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #36, June 17, 2013

About Harris Interactive
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SOURCE Harris Interactive