FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-The confidence of U.S. workers in manufacturing industries showed further signs of improvement in the third quarter of 2006, according to the latest Spherion Employment Report survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Spherion Corp. The third quarter Industrial, Manufacturing and Construction Employee Confidence Index increased by 1.3 points to 54.7-the largest gain in three quarters.

More workers believe that more jobs are available, 23%, as compared to the second quarter, 19%, and more have confidence in the future of their current employer-up three percentage points to 59% in the third quarter. Seven in 10 workers still believe they are not likely to lose their jobs in the next 12 months, and more than half, 55%, remain confident in their ability to find new jobs.

As for manufacturing workers, 75% said it is unlikely that they will lose their job in the next 12 months. This is strong worker confidence in job security, and tracks closely with a record-breaking 80% of the overall U.S. workforce who feel the same.

In manufacturing, 16% of workers said it is likely they’ll lose their jobs while about 8% are neutral. Also, 31% of manufacturing workers indicated that it is likely they will look for a new job in the next 12 months, while 55% do not feel it is likely they will; 14% remain neutral.

“We continue to see overall gains in worker confidence in these sectors, especially in terms of their employers’
futures as indicated by the three-percentage-point rise from last quarter,” says Ralph Henderson, senior vice president of staffing services for Spherion. “And four in 10 now report they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months-five percentage points higher than the overall U.S. workforce. This optimism may reflect ongoing job growth in manufacturing and industrial services, where we’re seeing an up-tick in demand for assembly workers, experienced forklift operators, and warehouse and distribution personnel.”

The Employee Confidence Index of workers in the industrial, manufacturing and construction industries rose 1.3 points in the third quarter of 2006, fueled primarily by a four-percentage-point rise in worker confidence in the availability of jobs and a three-percentage-point increase in confidence in the future of their employers. While this sector continues to lag the overall U.S. Index, which declined for the third consecutive quarter, the gap narrowed from 4.9 in the second quarter to 2.9 in the third quarter.