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Business profits from job stability

WORKPLACE changes over the past five years have resulted in the decrease in full-time jobs and the increase in part-time and casual jobs.

This has destabilised workers’ sense of security and their attitude toward employer organisations. Morale is down, workplace environments are deteriorating, and the future looks bleak to many diligent but disheartened workers and their families.

Casual work is a trend favoured by ec-rats as a cost-cutting measure to reduce the wage bill add-ons like holiday pay, superannuation, medical benefits and so on.

However, a recent report from the US suggests that this trend toward casuals is over. Financial Times employment editor Robert Taylor cites (Sept. 4) the item Booming US Economy Sees Return of Job Security in a recent report from the Washington-based independent think-tank, the Economic Policy Institute.

Taylor claims the full-time permanent job is back again in the booming US labour market, showing a dramatic decline in the proportion of flexible workers in temporary or part-time jobs.

The main driver is the return of full employment which has strengthened workers’ bargaining power for full-time status.

“Persistent low unemployment has allowed workers to move from substandard jobs – temporary, part-time, or without benefits – to better, more regular jobs,” says the EPI report released early this month. Considered the most comprehensive independent analysis of the US labour market, this biennial study suggests that since 1995, there has been a drop in the number of registered unemployed to under 5.5 per cent; regular part-time jobs to 15.5 per cent; “involuntary” part-time workers to 2.6 per cent from 3.7 per cent four years ago; temps, on call employees and moonlighters, from 6.2 to 5.8 per cent. During the same period, regular full-time workers increased from 73.6 to 75.1 per cent.

Apparently after more than 15 years of stagnation and decline, inflation-adjusted wages began to rise in 1995, narrowing the gap between low and medium income earners, although high-income earners are still soaring.

One note of optimism within the EPI report is that productivity during this time has increased. The EPI stats reaffirm that happy non-casual workers in happy, stable workplaces work harder, produce more, and make more profit for their stakeholders.

l Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac consultants.

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