The American workforce is more optimistic about the job market in 2010, giving quick-service operators reason to be hopeful for their own staffs—at least in the short term.

According to a recent survey commissioned by, an hourly employment Web site, 24 percent of Americans believe that the job market is improving, and 32 percent believe that things will at least improve soon.

Both hourly and salaried employees were surveyed.

“On the hourly side, 60 percent believe the job market will rebound in 2010,” says Shawn Boyer, founder and CEO of “People are optimistic, and based on what we’re seeing at least, there’s pretty good reason to be.”

Boyer says that unemployed Americans are getting more aggressive about their job hunts as the economy rebounds.

“People are getting excited about it, [saying], ‘You know what? I can do this. The economy is bouncing back, the job market’s getting better, I’m doubling back down on my efforts to get a job,’” he says.

The recession forced many retirees, stay-at-home spouses, and laid-off salaried workers into the hourly work force, providing hourly industries like quick service with a stronger work pool to choose from.

“In a lot of cases, they’re a little more experienced, potentially have a better work ethic, and they can raise the bar at their workplace for the other people,” Boyer says.

“[Other employees] say, ‘Wow, this person is on top of their game. These are the kind of people this employer can now hire. I need to make sure that I’m more timely and make sure that I have a better attitude and make sure that I’m more customer-service friendly.’”

But Boyer says that the job market will be returning more to pre-recession levels in the next year and a half, and that the work pool will shift accordingly.

“I think you’re going to see that a certain percentage of those folks are going to stay in those hourly positions, but I think a majority are either going to be promoted within that company or they’re going to exit back out into those salary-level positions in the next 12–18 months,” he says.

“There’s been a definite shift right now … but I think that it’ll start to shake back out more similarly to the way that it was before.”

According to the survey, 28 percent of Americans will be looking for different job in 2009, up from 26 percent in 2008. While 35 percent of those are looking for a job to make more money, 16 percent are looking to add a second job.

With a ripe crop of potential employees for operators to choose from in the coming year, Boyer says at least one group that traditionally mans the quick-service counter will be left in the cold.

“I think it’ll be a heck of a time for a teenager to find a summer job this year,” he says.

By Sam Oches