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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beyond the Official Unemployment Numbers: Rutgers Survey Finds Wide-Ranging Distress

A new Work Trends survey by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University finds the American worker in a state of deep distress due to the economic downturn. Nearly a third (32%) of those in the labor force believe the United States economy is in a depression, and half (53%) think the economic problems indicate the economy is undergoing fundamental and lasting changes.

Job losses are widespread. Nearly one quarter (23%) of workers say they have been laid off from a full- or part-time job in the past 3 years. Four in ten workers (42%) have watched co-workers get laid off over the last three years. Nearly a third of workers (29%) expect layoffs to occur in their workplace in the next 12 months. Only 11 percent say they have a great deal of confidence in the American banking system.

“Americans are experiencing the severity and depth of this recession on a daily basis,” says Carl Van Horn, Ph.D., Director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and Professor at Rutgers University. “And they are not optimistic about the future job market either.”

Since the last Work Trends survey conducted in May 2008, perceptions of economic conditions have significantly declined and workers express significant concerns. Compared to the 2008 Work Trends survey, The Anxious American Worker, Americans in the labor force have become significantly distressed about keeping their jobs and are pessimistic about new job prospects.

Nearly 7-in-10 (67%) workers are now very concerned with the unemployment rate, compared to 5-in-10 (46%) workers in 2008. Nearly half of the labor force (49%) is now very concerned with job security for those currently working, compared to a third (32%) in 2008. And nearly 7 in 10, or 68% of respondents, say they are very concerned about the job market for those looking for work, up 20 percentage points since last spring (48%) .

The national survey was conducted March 19-29, 2009, among 700 adults in the labor force, defined as those working full- or part-time jobs or unemployed and actively seeking employment. Amid the stress of layoffs, lack of job security, loss of retirement savings, and the dismal job market, the survey depicts American workers stunned by the direness of the country’s economic situation.

For further details, see the full press release.
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