U.S. Employees' Confidence in Pay Raises Falls

Men more confident they’ll receive a raise than women

By Stephen Miller, CEBS July 8, 2011

As the economy falters in mid-2011 amid market volatility and mixed labor reports, U.S. employee confidence related to pay raises, job security and the job market fell to levels last seen during the height of the 2008-09 recession, according to the second-quarter 2011 Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey.

In the second quarter of 2011:

41 percent of U.S. employees reported their company made changes to compensation, bonus, health care benefits and other rewards, down from 54 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

The percentage of employees reporting changes to their individual pay or bonus amount was relatively flat in the second quarter (28 percent vs. 29 percent in the first quarter).

Reports of furloughs and unpaid leaves were up slightly from the first quarter (19 percent vs. 14 percent). More employees in the West (33 percent) reported furloughs than those in the Northeast (20 percent), South (11 percent) or Midwest (7 percent).

“It’s clear that the psyche of American workers has been measurably shaken as a result of recent discouraging economic reports," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, who ran global HR departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo. "While company layoffs have abated in recent months, employees may be preparing themselves for what they think will be another round of belt-tightening if the economy doesn’t improve," he noted.

Employees may be preparing themselves for
another round of belt-tightening if
the economy doesn’t improve.
Rusty Rueff; Glassdoor

Survey Highlights

Among the key survey findings:

Fewer expect a raise. Employee pessimism regarding pay raises increased in the second quarter of 2011. Nearly half (48 percent) of employees reported they did not expect to receive a pay raise in the subsequent 12 months—the highest level seen in 18 months. Slightly more than one-third (36 percent) of employees expected a pay raise in the next year, down 4 points since the second quarter of 2010 (40 percent).

Men continue to be more optimistic regarding pay raises: Forty percent expected an increase in the coming year vs. 32 percent of women. Optimism for a pay increase was higher in the West (45 percent) than the Midwest (40 percent), Northeast (34 percent) and South (28 percent).

More concerned about layoffs. Layoff concerns edged up five points in the second quarter of 2011 to 22 percent. Worries about being laid off were highest among those who live in the West (29 percent) and lowest in the Midwest (16 percent).

Job market pessimism up.Nearly one-third (31 percent) of employees and those self-employed believed it was unlikely they would be able to find a job matched to their experience and compensation levels in six months if they lost their job, up 4 points from the first-quarter 2011. Just one in four of those unemployed but looking believed that they will be able to find a job in the next six months.

Workers 18-34 were more optimistic they could find a comparable job in the next six months than those age 55-plus (46 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively).

The survey was fielded June 21-23, 2011, among 2,203 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Glassdoor is an online "career community" offering access to job listings and details about more than 120,000 companies.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.​


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs

Earn your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.

Apply by March 20 and save $75 on exam fees with early-bird pricing.

Apply by March 20 and save $75 on exam fees with early-bird pricing.



Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.