American employees are worried about jobs, despite a strong economy

Employees want a short commute, flexibility and training, according to the Prudential’s Pulse of American Worker survey.

Why employees are tired of the cities and want to work at a distance
About 70% of knowledge workers said they would leave their cities if they could do their work remotely, according to a Citrix Systems report.

The economy may remain strong, but according to a new study, more than half of the employees surveyed across the country are concerned about the availability of jobs in their country, while four in ten believe there are few jobs available that meet their skills in their state.

In particular, nearly half (46%) of rural workers say that their community does not have enough jobs available, according to the Prudential Financial report. In urban environments, four in ten employees say they are concerned about job security.

SEE: 10 areas to be covered when drawing up a policy for working remotely (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The Pulse of American Worker study also found that six in ten people work in the same community as where they live. Gen Z workers are most concerned about jobs in their state (61%), followed by urban workers (60%) and teleworkers (57%).

Commuter traffic mystery

Eighty-eight percent say they would commute no more than an hour before their dream job, including 43% who said they would not commute for more than 30 minutes. What would make them commute further? Forty-three percent say flexible working hours and the ability to manage their schedules, while 33% give permission to work remotely several times a week.

The vast majority (84%) commute by car to work. Almost half of the employees in low employment states (46%) say they are more likely to get a job, followed by millennial workers and city workers (both at 45%).

“One of the interesting takeaways from this study is the value technology can have in retaining and enabling talent,” said Stacey Goodman, vice president and chief information officer at Prudential.

Referring to the finding that almost all employees want to work within an hour from where they live, Goodman noted that they would consider commuting further if they had more flexibility. “This is an area where technology can have a big impact and I would encourage employees who are looking for more flexibility (to) ask their employers what options there are.”

Where employees want help

When asked what employees need to improve their employment opportunities and skills, 35% say they pay help for training, followed by access to training programs (33%) and more time during the day to participate in training (28%).

Employees rank community colleges and universities as the most responsible for offering programs to help them build new skills, followed by business and their employer.

Skill development is another area where technology can have a measurable impact on both employees and employers, Goodman said. “Employees noted that the biggest barriers they face are training costs, access, and time. Using technology can help reduce those barriers and improve the employee experience.”

When it comes to determining where to live, job considerations have a low priority. Forty-eight percent of US employees are first and foremost affordability, followed by close proximity to family and friends (42%) and where they grew up (24%). Only 15% mentioned vacancies.

The Pulse of the American Worker Survey was conducted in November among a national sample of 1,000 working adults (age 18 and older) and 250 working adults (age 18 and older) from six states; three with the lowest unemployment rates (Idaho, Iowa and North Dakota) and three among the highest unemployment rates (Arizona, Michigan and Mississippi) to represent geographical considerations, Prudential said.

Distribution by states with high / low unemployment

Low unemployment explains:

  • According to Prudential, only 63% of employees in Iowa say their community is flourishing, one of the lowest of all states surveyed. Employees in Iowa place more emphasis on the quality of schools, with 19% saying that this is a consideration why they live where they live.
  • Employees in North Dakota are the least concerned (85%) about job availability, and 27% of employees live there for job openings.
  • Eight in 10 employees in Idaho say the community in which they live flourishes, and more than six in 10 employees in Idaho say their community offers many job opportunities

High unemployment explains:

  • Employees in Mississippi are more concerned about the availability of jobs (61%) and 55% believe that few jobs are available.
  • Four in 10 employees in Mississippi say that companies are closing in their state.
  • Half of the employees in Arizona do not feel financially secure; higher than any other state.
  • Seven out of ten employees in Arizona say they have considered taking on an extra job.
  • One in five employees in Michigan say they cannot find a job that matches their skills in their community.
  • 94% of employees in Michigan drive to work.
  • The unemployment rates were based on the US Department of Labor’s unemployment report in September 2019.

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