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Job Absence Ticked Up in Early 2012, but Recession's Impact Still Evident;
Employee Turnover Falls Slightly, Stays Well Below Pre-recession Levels
Arlington, Va. (May 29, 2012) - Job absence rates edged up slightly in the first quarter of 2012 but absenteeism continued to run well below levels recorded before the recession, according to Bloomberg BNA's Job Absence & Turnover Report, a quarterly survey of employers, released today.
Median rates of unscheduled absence (excluding long-term absences and partial days out) averaged 0.7 percent of scheduled worker days through the first three months of this year, up slightly from 0.6 percent in both the previous quarter and the first quarter of 2011. Despite that modest uptick, the first-quarter average is substantially lower than levels observed prior to the economic downturn of 2007-2009 (e.g., 1.5 percent in the first three months of 2006). Job absence plunged to record lows in 2009 and 2011.
The modest overall increase in job absence during the first quarter was far from uniform or consistent across industry, workforce size, or regional classifications. Given the lack of any consistent pattern across subsectors and the fact that absenteeismremains well below levels that were common before the recession, it would seem too soon to declare any significant resurgence in job absence.
Employee turnover in early 2012 gave no indication that worker separations will return to pre-recession levels any time soon. After rising modestly in 2010 and holding steady last year, employee departures (other than layoffs and reductions- in-force) in the first three months of this year declined slightly from levels observed in the same quarter of 2011. Median rates of employee turnoveraveraged just 0.6 percent of the workforce per month during the first quarter of 2012, unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2011, down slightly from 0.7 percent a year ago, and barely above the record-low first-quarter average recorded in 2009 (0.5 percent).
Turnover statistics for the first three months of 2012 provide little indication of any sustained or uniform trend in employee separations. With a few exceptions, first-quarter separation rates across industry, size, and region reflected modest or no change from a year earlier, with slight movement in one sector often counterbalanced by an opposite, moderate change in another. Certainly, the Bloomberg BNA survey offers no evidence that worker separations will soon approach levels observed before the recession.
This survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of human resource executives representing organizations throughout the United States. Of the 274 employers responding to this survey, 49 percent have fewer than 250 workers, 16 percent have workforces of 250 to 499 employees, 10 percent employ 500 to 999 workers, 10 percent have workforces of 1,000 to 2,499 employees, and 14 percent employ at least 2,500 workers. By industry, 21 percent of the organizations are manufacturing companies, 45 percent are nonmanufacturing firms, and 34 percent are nonbusiness establishments. By region, 21 percent of the employers are located in the Northeast, 31 percent are in the South, 35 percent operate in the North Central states, and 12 percent are located in the West. Total employment of the reporting organizations: 423,790.
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