According to a new survey by American Express, 71 percent of Americans consider their current job situation "just as stable" as or "more stable" than last year. Of these consumers, 54 percent feel their job is just as stable, while a significantly smaller number, 16 percent, feel their job is more stable. Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers consider their job "less stable" compared to last year.
The latest monthly American Express Spending & Saving Tracker investigated consumers' outlook on the job market, in addition to their views about the economy and their spending and saving habits. The research sample of 2089 adults included the general U.S population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent and the young professionals.
In line with previous month's surveys, young professionals had the most optimistic outlook of the three surveyed groups even as it relates to job security. Specifically,
- Thirty-four percent of young professionals said they feel "more stable" in their current jobs compared to last year, which is more than double the percentage of the general population (16%) and affluents (14%) that responded in that way.
- Fifty percent of young professionals said they feel "just as stable" in their current jobs, which is more consistent with the share of the general population (54%) and affluents (60%) that responded this way.
Spending and Stability
When exploring the connection between consumers' views about the stability of their current jobs with their spending behavior, survey results show that:
- The majority (60%) of consumers who feel their jobs are more stable have increased their overall spending and investments, particularly in dining out (35%) and travel (31%) and to a lesser extent in the stock market (14%) and real estate (10%) compared to last year.
- Consumers who feel either their current jobs are less stable or just as stable are less inclined to increase their overall spending and investments with, 16 percent and 32 percent respectively doing so.
"Month after month, consumers have indicated a renewed commitment to getting their financial house in order following the difficult period the nation has been through," said Pamela Codispoti, American Express senior vice president and general manager, Cardmember Services. "The findings of this most recent survey indicate that consumers are in fact following through on that commitment by exercising the appropriate level of financial control based on their perceived level of job security."
Trading Off for More Job Stability
The survey also asked a series of questions to capture consumer sentiment regarding the importance of job stability as it relates to other aspects of career management. For example, the vast majority of consumers (70%) said they would need a salary increase to lure them to a new job and nearly a quarter (23%) of those respondents would need a minimum increase of 20 percent or more in order to do so.
In terms of what they would sacrifice for the prospect of greater job security, more than half (54%) of the general population would make one or more concessions. The top five compromises were:
- Working longer hours (25%)
- Taking a demotion (20%)
- Shifting to a different size company (18%)
- Relocating to another geographic area of the country (16%)
- Taking on more stress and responsibility (14%)
What Signals Job Security
Regardless of the perception of their job stability, when asked what it would take to feel more stable in their current job this year, consumers ranked an increase in business and/or sales at the top of their lists. Other indicators that would signal job stability to consumers include:
- Receiving a bonus (26%)
- The lifting of a salary freeze (18%)
- Fewer lay-offs at the workplace (15%)
However, young professionals have a different view about indicators of job security. For example, more of them correlated receiving a bonus with job stability (44%) compared to the general population (26%) and affluents (24%), and in fact, they ranked it as their top indicator of job stability. They were also more than twice as likely (30%) as the general population (14%) and affluents (12%) to indicate that receiving a positive performance evaluation would calm their job security concerns.
For many Americans, specifically 41 percent of the general population, 37 percent of affluents and 64 percent of young professionals, the instability of the job market has been a catalyst for career reconsideration and/or reinvention. They are planning to improve their career marketability in a number of ways:
- 26 percent of the general population and 35 percent of young professionals plan to return to campuses/ go back to school.
- 19 percent of the general population and 29 percent of young professionals see switching to a new company as a way to advance their career.
- 10 percent of the general population, and more than twice as many young professionals (26%), plan to use professional organizations and trade publications to further their careers.
- 37 percent of affluents plan to take steps to improve their career marketability, and the top way they will do so is by switching companies.
Bringing home a bigger paycheck is the primary motivation for improving career marketability among the general population (41%) and across all groups, followed by the desire to make themselves more attractive to current or prospective employers (25%)
Should consumers find themselves or a family member out of a job in 2010, nearly three out of four (71%) have a financial backup plan. The vast majority of young professionals (88%) and affluents (81%) reported having a plan as well. Consumers' top backup plans include:
- Taking a job outside of their field (34%)
- Tapping into savings (33%)
- Taking a job they feel overqualified for (30%)
Additional financial fallbacks include using tax refunds (15% of the general population versus 21% of young professionals) and borrowing money from family/friends (11% general population versus 21% young professionals).
About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker
The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+. The research sample of 2,089 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups – the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between February 19 and February 25, 2010. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.1 (or 4.1 among affluent and 4.4 among young professionals) percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit americanexpress.com/aboutus.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.