The Employment Index dropped nearly a full point from 102 to 101.2. The slight downward shift represents the second consecutive decline in worker confidence in the employment market. The fall was mainly driven by a sagging optimism in personal finances, according to analysts at Hudson.
The study shows that 42 percent of workers now say their finances are getting better. That's down from 44 percent a month ago. However, the number of people who say their personal financial situation is getting worse rose from 36 percent in February to 39 percent in March.
Holding steady, though, are the numbers regarding workers' confidence in their employers' hiring plans.
Since February, the percentage of U.S. employees expecting their firms to layoff staff has fallen from 18 percent to 17 percent. The number of workers anticipating that their companies will hire held steady at 31 percent. Concerns over job security also were unchanged with 71 percent of U.S. workers not worried about job loss, according to Hudson's report.
''Record high gas prices and the declining value of the dollar are causing workers to feel less secure about their own finances,'' said Jeff Anderson, senior vice president of Hudson Global Resources of North America. ''Add in the uncertainty of Social Security, and even with hiring picking up, workers are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks.''
Workers at small businesses showed a change in their perception.
While they remain less upbeat than the overall workforce, optimism among workers at firms with fewer than 50 employees rose in March, spurred by their firms' positive hiring outlook, less anticipated lay off activity and more job satisfaction. Managers also grew more optimistic in March as a result of fewer expected lay offs and higher levels of job security.
Hudson, based in New York, is a professional staffing and outsourcing provider.