A study published Friday by Rutgers University documents the desperate situation facing millions of American workers who lost their jobs in the recession that began four years ago. The survey of laid-off workers, conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, found that only 22 percent of those who lost their jobs between August 2008 and August 2009 were working full-time as of August 2011.
Just 7 percent of the unemployed initially contacted by the Heldrich Center in the summer of 2009 say they have regained their previous income level. Another 23 percent say they are on their way back, having experienced a minor downward change in their quality of life that they believe to be temporary.
But a full 36 percent speak of “cataclysmic effects” of the recession and prolonged unemployment, including 21 percent whom the report’s authors consider to have been “devastated” and another 15 percent “who appear to have been wrecked by the recession.” (Emphasis in the original). The former category includes those in poor financial shape who have suffered a major decline in their standard of living, even if they believe it to be temporary. The latter comprises workers who are in poor financial shape, have suffered a major decline in lifestyle and believe the new state of affairs to be permanent.
Forty-seven percent of those surveyed say their personal financial situation is in “poor shape,” 58 percent say the economic crisis has had a “major impact” on themselves and their families, and 41 percent believe that the impact on their standard or living will be permanent.
The study found that the crisis has taken its biggest toll on those with no college education, 46 percent of whom have been “devastated” or “wrecked.” However, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of college graduates in the survey have likewise been “devastated” by the jobs crisis.