|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
With "no end in sight" for U.S. job losses amid a recession that could stretch into 2010, American workers will soon have to contend with another blow to their confidence: stagnant, or even falling wages.
Job seekers -- already coping with the highest unemployment rate in a quarter century, their savings mugged by a plunging stock market -- can also expect lower pay once they land a new job, labor market experts say, because the current downturn shows no signs of turning around anytime soon.
"There's no end in sight," said Tig Gilliam, chief executive of Adecco Group North America, the third-largest U.S. employer behind Wal-Mart Stores and the postal service.
But while job openings remain, employers are increasingly able to keep a lid on wages, further stretching consumers. The latest jobs report showed wage growth slowed in January and February from its pace at the end of last year.
According to Adecco, many clients are looking to hire people at lower rates than in the past, with the biggest wage pressure at the lower end of the pay scale, he said, among people earning around $10 or $12 per hour.
"Declining salaries make it easier for businesses to survive in the short term, but decreased consumer purchasing power is a recipe for disaster over the long term," said SurePayroll President Michael Alter. U.S. small business paychecks average $31,317, down about $1,300 over the past year.
Confidence in the stimulus among workers, by contrast, remains high, with nearly three-quarters telling an Adecco/Harris interactive survey they are optimistic the plan will boost jobs.
The outlook for job pay, however, is grim.
"Wages are going to take a hit," said Chad Sowash, vice president of the Direct Employers Association, a nonprofit that represents the interests of senior recruiters.
Sowash met Friday with Fortune 500 employers in the healthcare, IT and defense sectors, who told him anyone looking for a job now should expect to earn 10 percent to 20 percent less, depending on the position and the industry.
Labels: economic death watch