Worker’s expectations about losing and replacing their jobs: 35 years of change

Source: Charles N. Weaver, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, January 2015

Workers were less secure about retaining their jobs in 2010 and 2012 than in 1977 and 1978; they also were less secure about the ease with which they would find a comparable job if they were separated. As might be expected, the two measures of job security track unemployment, although other factors certainly play a role as well. …. Compared with workers in 1977 and 1978, workers in 2010 and 2012 expressed significantly less job security. They were more afraid of losing their jobs (11.2 percent versus the earlier 7.7 percent) and were less likely to think that they could find comparable work without much difficulty (48.3 percent versus the earlier 59.2 percent). …. Across the 35 years examined, the unemployment rate fluctuated between 4.6 percent and 9.7 percent, a trajectory related chiefly to changes in major demographic characteristics of the workforce, advances in communications and transportation, the rise and subsequent popularity of computers and the internet, the decline of unions, global competition in the manufacturing sector, and growing inequality of wealth. Moreover, the nature of recoveries from recessions varied. Some recessions, such as that in 1980, were followed by relatively rapid recoveries, so that the cycle was V shaped, whereas other recessions, such as the one beginning in December 2007 and lasting through June 2009, were more extended, resulting in a U-shaped cycle. ….