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Employee confidence remains high

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Employee confidence remains high

Despite evidence of a slowing economy, employees are upbeat.

According to the fourth quarter US Employee Confidence Index, produced by HR services company Randstad, more than one-third of workers (34%) believe more jobs are available and nearly six in 10 (55%) indicate they are confident in their ability to find a new job. While the US ECI dipped slightly from 61.8 in Q3'15 to 61.6 in Q4'15, overall confidence levels remained near record high since the survey's inception in 2004.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' October 2015 employment report kicked off the fourth quarter by delivering one of the strongest overall jobs reports in many months. Businesses hired new workers at the fastest pace of the year, adding 307,000 new jobs in October. Long-awaited improvement came for workers' pay as it rose at the fastest year-over-year pace since the U.S. emerged from the recession in mid-2009. November and December saw more of the same momentum, adding 252,000 and 292,000 new jobs, respectively.

"There is no question the battle for talent will grow in 2016."

Beyond the strong hiring activity and the lowest unemployment rate in more than seven years, there are other signs the labor market is beginning to tighten. Long-term unemployment declined by two-thirds as of November since hitting its peak in 2010. Also, at the end of November, 7.9 million Americans were unemployed, down 1.1 million year-over-year. However, economists say many companies are finding it more difficult to fill positions, and government data shows that job openings are taking longer to fill.

"There is no question the battle for talent will grow in 2016 as the labor market continues to tighten," said Jim Link, chief HR officer, Randstad North America. "This year, the big story will be wage growth and potential minimum wage increases. Although we've seen moments of improved wage growth, the big picture shows wages have been stagnant for most workers over the last many years. For minimum wage workers, despite efforts to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, it remains to be seen if it will come to fruition. However, we already see many states and cities taking matters into their own hands and raising minimum pay rates. In fact, 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, and nearly two dozen cities and counties have set their own higher minimum wages."

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