The unemployment levels today are at the worst they’ve been in decades.  And yet, based on my emails at least, more people are thinking about leaving their current employer and moving elsewhere.  Is this smart career planning?  Or is it simply naive optimism that could result in a far worse outcome for these people?

Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument, with some hard stats:

1.  The Labor Department recently reported that the US has had 7.6 job losses since the beginning of this recession in December of 2008. This news brings the overall unemployment level to a whopping 15.1 million.

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Add to that those who have given up looking for a job or out of desperation are working part time instead of full time and the full impact of this crisis really hits home. The level of those who have been hammered moves from the 10.2% reported unemployed rate to about 17.5%. Unfortunately, for those in this situation, the outlook for next year doesn’t look much better with most forecasters expecting it to remain about the same for at least another 6 to 9 months because there are now about 7 people applying for every 1 job opening; compared with a ratio of 1.7 to 1 in early 2008.

All in all, those are compelling reasons why you should stay where you are.  Perhaps.

2.  But, on the other hand, staying where you are may have some real downsides too.  According to research recently completed by Computerworld, the total average compensation (including salary and bonus) is down 0.4% in 2009 versus 2008.

This was their 23rd annual salary survey and it shows a trend line that isn’t exactly comforting. While average salaries are up 0.4%, respondents experienced a 10.8% drop, on average, in bonuses this year compared to 2008.

Additionally, 44% reported permanent staff layoffs in the 2009 study, up from 28% reporting the same in the 2008 study. This year also saw increases in canceled projects (from 25% to 35%), training cuts (from 25% to 37%), budget cuts (from 53% to 65%), salary freezes (from 22% to 51%), and hiring freezes (from 33% to 48%).

What about the benefits?  When asked if they’ve been reduced or eliminated entirely, 17% of respondents noted that their Matching 401(k) Contributions had been hit. The numbers were tough for other bennies also with Profit sharing down for 11%, and Health benefits/insurance cut for 10%.  Read more about this survey and what I said is the smart first course of action.

Whatever your situation, it’s always better to take action knowing as much as possible about the environment.  And today at least, it’s busy.  40% of respondents were saying they’re looking for another job, either actively or passively.  Of those looking for new jobs, these were the most commonly reported reasons:

  • Looking for higher compensation  59%
  • Career opportunities  45%
  • Looking for more personal fulfillment   43
  • More interesting/challenging work   42%

When asked why they’re not looking – the reason “job market is poor/few opportunities” increased from 26% in 2008 to 47% in 2009.  Over two-thirds (67%) said they were satisfied with their current responsibilities, 49% were satisfied with their current compensation, and 47% were satisfied with their company culture.

What about you?

Here’s to your Future!


Leadership Coach