More than six in ten workers say they worry they will lose their jobs, a record not seen since the 1970s, according to a new poll from the Washington Post and Miller Center. About a third say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, which is also a record high.
Sixty-five percent say they also worry their family income won’t be enough to cover their needs, with nearly 20 percent worrying all of the time. Half say they are less financially secure than they were a few years ago. Two-thirds say it has become harder for people like them to get ahead financially over the past few years, and three-quarters say it’s become harder to get a good job.
But 45 percent remain hopeful, saying they expect to move up in social class over the next few years.
The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 7.3 percent, with nearly three workers for every job opening. An average of 4.2 million people leave their jobs every month either by being fired or leaving voluntarily, while about 4.4 million get hired.
And federal lawmakers have often made things worse. The showdowns over shutting the government and risking a debt default cost the economy 120,000 jobs in two weeks. Since 2010, Republicans have repeatedly pushed the government to the brink of crisis to make demands, a governing tactic that has cost nearly 1 million jobs and reduced economic growth by 0.3 percent a year. Meanwhile, the push for austerity measures that have severely hampered government spending has pushed the unemployment rate a whole percentage point higher and led to massive public sector layoffs at a time of already high unemployment.
Those same austerity measures, in particular the automatic cuts from sequestration, also directly impact job seekers. They have hobbled job training services that help many get back on their feet after a job loss, and they have also meant reduced unemployment benefits for the the long-term unemployed.
Meanwhile, wages for those who are lucky enough to have a job keep falling. The first three months of this year saw the biggest drop in wages ever, continuing a trend of a lost decade in wage growth for American workers. That leaves three out of four workers living paycheck to paycheck every week and the same percentage with less than six months of savings shored up.