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U.S. workers itching for a chance to change jobs

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Most U.S. workers are ready to tell their bosses to take a hike and hop to a new job at the first real sign of a pickup in the job market, a survey conducted by an employment Web site found.

But while some two-thirds of respondents to the survey by a unit of college loan provider Sallie Mae  indicated they're waiting for a chance to change jobs, many also said they value long-term employment with a single company.

Still, nearly 40 percent of respondents expect to leave their current employer within a year, according to the survey of 200 job seekers conducted in January by TrueCareers.

Those who want to score a bigger paycheck and take on more responsibility make up 46 percent of the group who expect to switch jobs when the economy improves. Twenty-five percent are looking to change fields, the survey found.

"More than one-third of respondents say that they have been passively searching for a new job," Cecelia Dwyer, president of TrueCareers, said in a statement. "Employers that are not doing enough to retain good personnel may lose valuable assets as the economy improves and new jobs are created."

But employers shouldn't expect mass defections quite yet. U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in February from January, as Americans took a dimmer view of the economy, mainly because of a lack of new jobs, data released on Tuesday by private research firm The Conference Board showed.

Also, despite looking for opportunities to change jobs now, most respondents said they prefer staying with one employer for at least five to seven years. Half of survey respondents said they'd prefer to spend the majority of their career with one company.

TrueCareers, a job board aimed at workers with college degrees, is a unit of Reston, Virginia-based Sallie Mae..

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