Pessimism rocks America’s post-recession workplace, survey says

08/28/2014 10:33 AM

08/28/2014 3:38 PM

If a sampling of Americans is correct, the U.S. economy and workplace were forever changed — for the worse — by the Great Recession.

According to a majority of adults polled by the John H. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, college will continue to be unaffordable, people won’t be able to retire as expected and jobs will continue to be insecure.

Titled “Unhappy, Worried and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession,” the report was based on a survey of 1,153 adults taken this summer between July 24 and Aug. 3.

Even if they “retire” as planned, slightly more than half said they believe “the elderly” will have to continue working in a part-time job.

Only 16 percent of those surveyed thought employment and opportunities will be better for the next generation. That compared with 56 percent who thought so in a July 1999 survey.

One-third of the respondents said their standards of living were unscathed by the recent recession. Another one-third said they had been temporarily “troubled” or “set back” by the economic downturn. The rest characterized their situations as permanently “devastated” or “downsized.”

Asked to check words and phrases that described the “typical American worker,” a whopping 70 percent checked “not secure in their jobs,” and 68 percent checked “highly stressed.”

The phrases checked next most often were “takes pride in work” by 45 percent and “productive” by 43 percent. The least checked phrase — “happy at work” — was checked by a mere 14 percent, and only 18 percent checked “well paid.”

The Heldrich center noted that all surveys are subject to sampling error and said the results should be viewed with a plus or minus 3 percentage point margin of error, with a 95 percent confidence level.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to


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