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1-in-5 Workers Lost Jobs in Recession, Study Says

Nearly one in five Americans, or 18 percent, was laid off during the 2000-2003 recession, according to a new study. And not only are workers losing their jobs, but their employers are not providing them with adequate resources in the in-between times.

Two-thirds of workers laid off in the last three years received no severance package or other compensation from their former employer, according to the study by <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut titled The Disposable Worker: Living in a Job-Loss Economy.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
And for workers who lost jobs paying $40,000 or more annually, fewer than half (49 percent) received unemployment insurance, according to the study. Among workers whose former jobs paid under $40,000, 35 percent received unemployment insurance.
 
“There’s neither private sector nor government support that’s going to most people,” Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, told the Associated Press.
 
Van Horn said he disagreed with the National Bureau of Economic Research’s July 17 proclamation that the recession ended in November 2001 based on the rising gross domestic product.
 
“There are still a lot of people unemployed,” Van Horn said. “If you’re a typical person and not an economist, you don’t really care about the GDP.”
 
The study also found employers falling short when it comes to extending health benefits, help with a job search or career and skills training. One-fourth of people surveyed said their employer extended their health benefits after they were laid off, and less than one-fifth received help finding a job, career counseling or skills training.
 
Many who found new jobs fear they will lose their jobs again in the next three to five years, said Kenneth Dautrich, study co-author and director of Connecticut’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis
 
“For America’s workers, the economic downturn isn’t a policy debate, it is a jolting ride on a rickety roller coaster,” Van Horn said in a survey release. “Workers cycle in and out of jobs with low confidence that the economy will stabilize soon, and the only help they hope to get is what they can give themselves.”
 
The study says that more than half (56 percent) of all workers and their family members have been laid off at some time in their lives. Among workers with less than a high school education, 63 percent said they or a family member have been laid off at least once, while 44 percent with a college degree have been downsized.
 
While some employers notified workers of their impending job loss, which federal law requires for those hiring more than 100 workers, 64 percent of workers were laid off with less than two weeks’ notice.
 
The majority of those laid off went on to find new jobs, but the job hunt was longer for blacks than whites. Sixty-eight percent of white workers had found a new full-time job, while only 44 percent of African-Americans had done so. Just over half (54 percent) of other races had found work.
 
About 36 percent of those surveyed said they were very concerned about the current unemployment rate, by far the largest percentage in 14 years of the Work Trends series. Forty-three percent said they were concerned about job security, also the highest level ever in the study.
 
Just 8 percent said they thought President Bush was doing an excellent job handling issues related to jobs, while 31 percent said he is doing a poor job.
 
Jodi Mathews is news writer for EthicsDaily.com.