Workers Experience Layoff Anxiety Despite Low Unemployment

Written By
Julija A.
August 16,2019

Americans are terrified of losing their jobs. Despite record low unemployment rates that the country hasn’t seen since 1969, 48% of employees are experiencing layoff anxiety.

That’s among the eye-opening insights in CareerArc’s 2019 Layoff Anxiety Study. Of the 48% of people who experience layoff anxiety, 34% say that it’s fueled by the fear of impending recession and 32% say that rumors around the office contribute to rising tensions. For 30%, a recent round of workplace layoffs is to blame.

The survey was conducted online by the Harris Poll on behalf of CareerArc. The study found that losing a job is not uncommon among Americans: 40% report being laid off at least once in their lives, and apparently the impact of the Great Recession is partially to blame. Of those who experienced termination during the Great Recession, 74% say they suffer from layoff anxiety and 36% say that it’s particularly related to the fear of an impending recession. The current unemployment rate in the US is 3.6%.

Despite high layoff anxiety, most employed Americans are not ready to lose their jobs — 47% of those surveyed say they don’t feel prepared for a layoff. Certain factors increased the likelihood of someone being unprepared to be abruptly unemployed. Of those who feel not at all prepared or not very prepared, 63% are homeowners, 54% have a college degree or higher level of education, and 54% have household income of less than $50,000 per year. Parents with children under 18 stand at 53% compared to 43% of those without children under 18, and 54% of women feel unprepared compared to 41% of men.

Additional findings shed even more light on anxiety rates across employed demographics. They include age, gender, and education level. These are the key findings:

  • Younger people suffer from layoff anxiety more — 61% of those aged 18-34 suffer from layoff anxiety, compared to 41% of adults ages 35 and above.
  • Fifty-four percent of women aren’t prepared for a layoff compared to 41% of men.
  • Thirty-nine percent of women who suffer from layoff anxiety cite fear of pending recession as the leading cause of layoff anxiety, compared to 29% of men.
  • Men (45%) are more likely to lose their jobs than women (36%).
  • Sixty-four percent of employees with college degrees or higher education have never been laid off, while 48% of employees with some college and 47% of those with a high school degree or less have never been laid off.
  • Twenty-three percent of those aged 18-34 (millennials and Gen Z) and 19% of those aged 35–44 were about twice as likely to experience difficulty in finding or switching jobs during the Great Recession compared to those ages 45-54 (11%) and 55-64 (9%).

CareerArc is an HR technology company specializing in social recruiting and on-demand outplacement. The study was conducted June 25-27, and it polled 2,024 adults, 1,061 of whom were employed. Results were calculated for age within gender, race/ethnicity, income, region, and education levels.

About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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