PRINCETON, NJ -- Even as Gallup's underemployment measure shows that more people are getting full-time jobs, 21% of American workers think it is "very" or "fairly" likely that they will lose their jobs or be laid off during the next 12 months. That is nearly twice the 12% pre-recession level of 2007 and about the same as the 19% recorded in late 1982, during another deep recession.
Further reflecting today's lack of job security, 38% of Americans employed full- or part-time say they are "not at all likely" to lose their jobs over the next year -- down 19 points from April 2007, and by far the lowest level of self-professed job security Gallup has measured since 1975.
Many Could Not Replace Their Current Jobs
American workers are not optimistic about replacing their current jobs if they are laid off: 42% say they would be "very" (16%) or "somewhat" (26%) likely to find another job "just as good as the one [they] have now." This is down from 64% in April 2007 and 70% in April 2001.
Many Would Encounter Financial Hardship
Forty-four percent of employees say they could go up to a month after losing their job before experiencing significant financial hardship, and another 27% say they could last up to four months. This financial fragility is not much different than it was in April 2003 and February 2001, when 41% and 46%, respectively, said they could last up to a month.
Paycheck dependency is more prevalent in the South as well as among those who have a high school education or less and those who make less than $30,000 a year.
Today, Americans are feeling particularly vulnerable if they lose their job. Many don't think they can replace their current job with one just as good. Also, nearly half can't go more than a month without a paycheck before encountering significant financial hardship.
This is the case even as Gallup's Job Creation Index shows that the percentage of companies laying people off has recently declined. Evidently, the downturn in layoffs has not been good enough to make many Americans feel secure in their present jobs. Regaining personal job security is likely to take time and significant new hiring activity.
Job fears raise the question of whether the modest uptick in spending seen in March and early April is sustainable. The actual "return of the consumer" may require not only that Americans see fewer layoffs, but that they also begin to feel secure again about their jobs and even their ability to get a similar new job if they are let go.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,020 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 8-11, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.