Even though the summer months usually indicate a decline in employee index, said Kevin Knaul, executive vice president of IT and Telecom for Hudson, "[t]he numbers certainly surprised us that we saw it drop so sharply."
Of the four industries Hudson looks at IT had the most significant drop in confidence month-over-month, he said. "The volatility is highest in IT."
The latest drop brings the current Index 10 points lower than last Augusts reading of 108.4. The HEI is a monthly survey of over 9,000 workers by the staffing firm Hudson, a division of Hudson Highland Group.
Workers were noticeably less optimistic in all respects pertaining to their personal finances during August. The percent rating their situation as excellent or good dropped two points to 42%. There was also a three-point decline in the percentage of workers who stated that their personal finances were improving. Further, those stating that their finances were getting worse jumped five points to 43%.
After holding steady near 31% for nine consecutive months, the number of workers expecting hiring slipped to 30%. At the same time, the percentage anticipating job cuts rose from 16% in July to 18%, which shows the same pattern from one year ago.
Job security concerns also climbed a point to 21% this month, as the percent reporting job satisfaction slipped from 74% to 72%.
"As a CIO I would take a look at these figures and know that the stress levels in the (IT) department fluctuate significantly based on corporate direction and the company's messaging as to what is the future," said Knaul.
In other words, better communication from what the future holds for the company can go a long way to alleviating employee fears that they will not have a job or enough money to meet their obligations, said Knaul.
"If (company news) is something we spring on them in the last minute then it would be no surprise why we see these numbers fluctuate so much," he added.
In contrast to the national average, managers in the private sector were more optimistic, although not just because their firms hiring plans were greater, which is often the case. They also showed positive movement in personal finances and job satisfaction, as well as fewer concerns about job loss this month.
The Hudson Employment Index (Hudson-Index.com) measures the U.S. workforces confidence in the employment market. The Index tracks aggregate employment trends around career opportunities, hiring intentions, job satisfaction and retention. The data is compiled each month by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm. Survey results are segmented by eleven metropolitan cities and four industries.