More Americans say their employers are cutting bonuses and perks or initiating hiring freezes, and slightly more workers are worried about layoffs in the next six months, according to a quarterly survey of employee sentiment.
The national survey by Glassdoor.com, a Website dedicated to workplace issues, found that 17 percent of those polled are concerned that they may be laid off in the first half of the year, up 1 percentage point from the third quarter but below levels in 2009 and 2010.
Those between ages 35 and 44 are more likely to worry about job cuts than either younger or older peers. Workers in the U.S. South were more likely to express anxiety about layoffs than those in other regions.
The proportion of workers who say their employers have cut or eliminated bonuses jumped to 17 percent, its highest level since the second quarter of 2010, Glassdoor said on Thursday.
More employers -- 15 percent, up 5 points -- are also taking away perks such as commuter subsidies, or asking staff to take unpaid leave. Fewer employers have initiated large-scale hiring.
More Americans, however, say their companies' prospects appear healthier.
Forty percent of the more than 2,500 participants in the survey said their company's six-month outlook has improved, up from 33 percent who said so three months ago, and confidence about finding a comparable job in the event of a layoff is the highest since 2009.
That could translate into stronger consumer spending in coming months, said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, who previously ran global human resources departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo.
"People feel better about their companies," Rueff said. "They're feeling more comfortable they're going to keep their salary or even get a raise."
Employee confidence could rise in coming months, he added, but jobs in many industries are not going to come back after the recession, so it's unrealistic to expect big job gains.
"I'm not sure any of us are going to see large-scale hiring for the next decade," Rueff said.
Glassdoor's poll showed that U.S. workers remain on edge about jobs prospects even though job gains have accelerated in recent months and the U.S. unemployment rate has dipped to 8.6 percent.
About half of those surveyed said their employers had cut pay or laid off staff in the last six months. More than a quarter of employers have initiated hiring freezes, up from 22 percent in the prior survey.
Friday's December jobs report is expected to show 150,000 jobs were added outside the farm sector last month, with the unemployment rate rising slightly.
U.S. private employers added almost twice as many jobs in December than economists expected, a report by payrolls processor ADP showed on Thursday, and initial jobless claims dipped last week.
(Reporting By Nick Zieminski; editing by Mark Porter and Gunna Dickson)