Fear Of Major Layoffs Drops To Lowest Level Since '08, Survey Finds

Portrait of smiling professionals and workers with business people in background
The financial crisis officially began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in Sept., 2008. Five years later and the economy is down a net total of 240,000 jobs, at latest count, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure hardly qualifies as a wash; over the last half-decade the American economy "should have been adding [jobs], instead of trying to recoup the jobs that have been lost," as Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the liberal and non-profit Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, recently told AOL Jobs.

Yet if you ask America's workers things are finally looking up. According to a just released survey of employee confidence by the employment website Glassdoor, just fifteen percent of employees fear getting laid off in a major purge over the next six months. (See below for chart of results from the quarterly survey going back to 2008.) The rate for the third quarter of 2013 is the lowest figure since the fourth quarter of 2008, the first after the Lehman collapse. (According to Glassdoor, the survey respondents do not provide written feedback to explain their outlook.)

The confidence report was conducted online by Harris interactive. Confidence was tracked by four indicators: job security, business outlook, job market optimism/re-hire probability and salary expectations. A total of 2,044 workers took part in the survey.

Analysts at Glassdoor are welcoming the results as a major turning point. "We are finally seeing signs of stabilization within the job market," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career expert, who formerly ran the human resource departments for Electronic Arts and PepsiCo.

Unreal expectations?
Workers' bullishness about the future of the labor market may not be grounded in reality. The survey found that the number of workers who said their employer have recently gone on a major hiring spree dropped to its lowest level since the second quarter of 2011. The figure from this most recent poll stood at 18 percent.

Another interesting nugget from the survey: men are 10 percent more likely to believe their company's business outlook will improve than women. (45 percent versus 35 percent.)

And as AOL Jobs has reported, there's in fact much reason to be glum about the future of layoffs. Employers are increasingly finding ways to purge workers without large-scale layoffs, opting instead for what's known as "stealth layoffs." Employers including Lockheed Martin, Northup Grunman and Pfizer have pursued such a strategy with their respective purges.

"It's bad publicity to have a layoff because the immediate reaction is that [the company] has financial issues," J.T. O'Donnell, a former human resources exec-turned-career coach told AOL Jobs. "Employers don't want that negativity out there."

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