March 12th, 2009
04:17 PM ET

Job crisis first, financial crisis second?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/05/job.search.tips.industry/art.job.fair.florida.gi.jpg]
The Pew Research Center

For the public, the continuing financial crisis has been overtaken by a jobs crisis. The proportion of Americans citing jobs or unemployment as the nation’s most important economic problem has more than quadrupled – from 10% to 42% – since early October and job worries now far surpass concerns over the financial crisis.

People’s perceptions of the availability of jobs in their areas have worsened as the unemployment rate has increased. Fully 80% say that jobs are difficult to find in their local communities – up seven points since December and 16 points since early October. Overall views of the national economy, already quite negative at the end of last year, have declined further; 30% say the country is in a depression, up from 20% as recently as December.

As has been the case since the financial crisis began, a sizable minority of Americans (40%) say they expect economic conditions to be better a year from now. But the proportion expressing that optimistic view has declined by six points since early October, while the percentage saying they expect things to be worse or the same a year from now has increased from 46% to 56%.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 4-8 among 1,303 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that an increasing proportion of workers expect to face some form of job or benefit cutbacks in the year ahead. More than three-quarters (77%) of working adults say it is not likely they will actually be laid off in the next year, but 21% say a layoff is very or somewhat likely, up from 15% in January 2008. The percentage saying it is at least somewhat likely they may be asked to take pay cut has nearly doubled since the beginning of last year – from 13% to 25%.


Filed under: Economy • Job Market • The Buzz
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Dee

    The jobs in the middle are the ones that are now obsolete. If you don't have your 4 year degree, you are out of luck. Even if you do have your degree, often employers are offering half of what was they were offering before. We desperately need a national retraining "stimulus" plan for those whose jobs have disappeared, and for those who cannot afford to go back to school right now.
    Also, credit card companies need to lower their interest rates – this is another thing that is keeping people from consuming. Housing prices and mortgage rates have gone down significantly – when will credit card rates follow? Credit card companies have greedily become usurious in the past 10 years.

    April 2, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  2. Ikeokwu, F, -- Florida.

    "Do not bite the finger that feeds you." Obviously, most of us can recollect hearing the above statement so many times. The financial institution, especially the credit card companies ought to take such caution very serious. These same entities that received bailout money have turn around to use "short-term wealth" against the consumers they are charged to serve. The question is–would it be ever possible in our life-time for the consumers to benefit from the stimulus payment to the banks/credit card companies in terms of credit rate reduction? It is understandable that the simple law of supply and demand/price should first suffice. Even if it does, who accounts for the accuracy? Surely, these firms are taking advantage of ignorant consumers. Most credit card holders are seeing their interest rates increased from 10% to 29%, for no apparent reason, or for a reason that they are late from making payments on a credit card belonging to another company. The stimulus payment has given the banks a second breadth of energy to create further unregulated credit policies, and is under the umbrella of "legal business practices" stealing from consumers. These are the same consumers that have made it possible for them to receive the stimulus packages. Until appropriate banking regulatory system is established, consumers will continue feed the banks on interest payments from the money they do not have, and the banks will continue bite their feeding fingers with no remorse.

    March 16, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  3. Kim

    The gov. of NC just used the educational lottery to balance the state budget ? Where is the transparancy on exactly how much and where this NC stimulus money will be spent ? Our furniture industry and textile industry ? 100% Re-Power America and factories empty ready to go !

    March 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  4. Clint M. Mitchell

    Mr. Anderson,

    I am a very big fan of your program. I truly enjoy the commentaries from Mr. Velshi, Mr. Gergen and Mr. Martin. I am a principal at an elementary school in Northern Virginia. We were facing and still face some major cuts in the future within our school division. Some of these major cuts include the elimination of kindergarten teacher assistants, increase in class sizes, reduction in per pupil ratios in ESOL, etc. As a Title 1 school, my school will suffer immensely based on the fact that we have over 65% of our students on free and reduce mea l, over 50% ESOL and a large special education population. I listen to many of the commentaries from your various guests who on occasions criticize President Obama's stimulus plan. Today, we received word from the superintendent of schools that our school division will receive twenty five million dollars in stimulus money. This will allow us to save kindergarten teacher assistants, ESOL and SPED teacher assistants, maintain class sizes, etc. If you want proof that the stimulus package is working, well here is your proof; it might not have created jobs but it saved many jobs. Without that money, we would have face massive lay-offs, increased class sizes and decreased funding to support our initiatives. Due to the aforementioned, I am a very proud principal today because I do not have to look at my employees in the face and tell them they do not have a job. Good bless you and your guests and my wife and I who are both public school principals will continue to watch your show.

    Clint M. Mitchell

    March 13, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  5. Patrick from Bäle

    Fundamentally speaking this whole crisis is about the working class. The importance of the working class, not only in our society but globally must be re-examined. The strength and endurance of any economic, social and political activity of any and all societies globally lies with their working class prople. If a catastrophe or a plague would affect a particular area or society and seriously weaken its working class, it would proportionately weaken, or even destroy its political and social structures and activities. Without a strong and dedicated working class there are no viable, harmonius, progressive economic, social and political actitivities in any society anywhere on the planet. Solution: Recognize the importance of the working class. Empower them with security, fairness and opportunity and watch the crisis melt away. How can this be accomplished? There is only one foolproof way to do this, as well as it being, "the-right-thing-to-do;" change the first (1st) purpose of any economic activity from (profit) to the creation of (jobs). Put profit second (2nd) because profit is important but not as important as human beings and their right to use the resourses of the planet for work, for job creation. Realistically, what is economic activity for; the evolution of money or of human beings? Get the answer to this fundamental question right in America and watch this
    crisis disappear globally!

    March 13, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  6. Tina

    Recession or not, the United States can survive this ongoing financial crisis and unemployment crisis, partly because the greatest democracy in the world works best during hard times, as it proved during the other crises the country faced in the past, and largely because Americans are the kind of people whose love of country and faith in the human spirit remain strong no matter what hardships they have to face. I only have to remember a news report many years back during the 1st gulf war where American soldiers were shown eating poorly prepared meals that mostly came straight from cans durng a rest stop, while soldiers from the UK, France, and other allies were eating specially prepared meals, and yet the American soldiers were all proud and happy to be serving their country. I felt they deserved gourmet meals and much much more if only for their great spirit and love for their country no matter what. So whatever belt tightening needs to be done during this maybe-or-maybe-not-recession, I have no doubt that Americans more than any other people in the world will be ready to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to help our beloved country to make it through these tough times.

    March 13, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  7. Karen Gartrell

    Just to add a comment about the jobless rate. I live in NC where the jobless rate is near 10% and most of our companies have shipped our jobs overseas. We also have many of our jobs taken by illegal immagrants and yes folks they have county jobs! But the worst thing is our state and local goverments feel that because the President is giving the middle class a break on taxes and giving us more in our paychecks that they are rising our property taxes by as high as 28%. How is this a stimulus for our country and how will this help the jobless rate if the money we are given is stolen by inflated state and local property taxes? I'm sure the President did not intend for this to happen.

    March 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  8. DrewK

    I agree with an earlier poster that the media has an obligation to not only report America is confused about the recession but try to inform the public about what they dont understand.

    If our news agencies and reporters cant inform us then we might as well go to an all ireporter news corp.

    I want to know more than people are struggling I want to know what they are doing and how govt plans are designed to help.

    Mainly I am getting tired of hearing the highly biased reporters on basically every news program.

    March 12, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Harry Singh

    A few thoughts to ponder…..

    · Big businesses merge with each other, layoff by the thousands and then ship jobs oversees…primarily to make a few top people rich

    · Manufactures selling directly to consumers eliminate thousands of smaller businesses and consequently cause thousands of layoffs

    · We just need to look at the state of our economy to understand that the above philosophies are not working and not beneficial for most Americans. The Walmart & the Dell (models) are a Disaster for America.

    Small & Mid sized businesses have to be promoted to save this country.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    My last employer is doing a little of everything – laying off employees, off-shoring jobs, hiring people with associates degrees rather than 4 year degrees because they can pay them less, cutting benefits (first to go was the pension plan), cutting the company's matching of the 401K contribution by an employee, reduction of hours, no overtime pay, etc. The company continues to earn big bucks on the back of their workers. Business, at least for this company, doesn't appear to be bad – just greedy.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  11. Kent, Illinois

    Well, I am glad at least I do not live in Texas. The Governor just turned down millions in unemployment benefits that the Stimulus was to give Texas. Guess the GOP agenda is more important than the help that money would of given to the people of Texas. If you are trying to run for President in 2012 Perry you can forget it now. If you think you can win the next race for Governor you can drop that way of thinking also. The people of Texas will speak loud and clear next time......and you will be looking for a new job.

    March 12, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  12. Donna

    I certainly DO NOT agree with congress waiting for a pay raise hold next year. it took me 48 years just to get $12.00 an hour, all that hard work, struggling through the years, while the cost of living was going sky high, the pay was not catching up at all. and they are worried about themselves? that is why I get so angry at congress. if I had the money they all make, I would be a trillionaire by now! that pelosi woman seems to be a pain more then she is worth!! wouldnt we all love to have her lavish lifestyle!

    March 12, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  13. Michelle

    i agree the American economy is 2/3 consumer driven.
    I people do not get jobs that will make them comfortable
    with spending money the economy will not recover.

    March 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  14. Beverly-NYC

    When am I going to see a story about people who are being responsible? I don't mean to be callous, but for every person out there who has lost a job there are a lot more working. I am so tried of stories about people who call themselves adults who expect the government to act like their parent and come to their rescue when they get in a jam. What would you have done in normal circumstances where you lost your job, get unemployment, and look for a a new job, any job. Everyone seems to be stuck on stupid waiting for the gov't to bail them out, keep waiting. The President wasn't there when you ran up your credit card or bought a house, car, boat or clothes you could not afford. Grow up, get yourself out of your own mess. Hopefully the same mistakes won't be repeated

    March 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    I want to hear the entire, bitter truth. Jobs are the number one concern. Without big business, this trend will continue, hence the "bail out".

    Why are billions distributed before approved plans are analyzed by Congress?

    March 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  16. Robert Yancy

    I am frustrated with our reporting of our economic conditions. We know its bad. We need to hear some good. Instead of reporting 8% unemployment, we could report 92% employment. Instead of listing all the the business failings, why not note those businesses that are succeeding. The news mediate has an awesome responsibility to its public and that is to provide us with a ray of sunshine on a dark day. Something to think about!!!

    March 12, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  17. Lisa in CA

    Golly, are we just now figuring out that when jobs are lost or pay is cut, it's more difficult to pay the bills? I just issued a "sell" so that I can have the money to pay my mortgage this month. To heck with paying any other bills. And if I don't have a job by next month, in 3 months I won't have a roof over my head either. Unfortunately, business is taking advantage of those of us desparate for work – any work – and we are seeing salaries drop. The problem with this is that there then becomes a larger difference between pay and debt. I'd wager that the next increase we are going to see is that of filings for personal bankruptcies.

    The banks, rather than "getting" what's going on in the real world, are changing their terms and upping the interest rates if you're late or don't pay off the balance in full. An increase in the interest rate means a higher payment. If people – and more importantly, banks – are having problems now, wait until they can't make the credit card payment. The banks really will be taking hits.

    This is a time in history when everyone – individuals, financial industry, business - all needs to be working together. Rather, the banks got theirs, to heck with everyone else; the businesses are taking advantage by paying lower salaries; and, as always, the individual loses.

    I've been saying since the wealth-fare bailout (of the financial institutions) was first mentioned that we should let them fail. Maybe if we do, they willthen understand what the rest of us are going through.

    We certainly have become one awfully selfish, greedy generation. All I can do is shake my head. I'm so disappointed in America.

    March 12, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  18. Mari, Salt Lake City

    When you are in danger of losing your job, that IS the most important thing.

    But I noticed that "77% of working adults say it is not likely they will actually be laid off." This is HOPEFUL.

    I am old enough to remember many deep recessions, like the one in 1973, when in my hometown of Seattle, after Boeing (then the largest employer) was laying off thousands. Many people were so scared, my husband and I married in '73. There was a billboard by the Ranier Beer Co., that read "Last One Out of Seattle Turn-Off the Lights!"

    Well........ 35 years later, we all know that Seattle is one of the most prosperous and wealthiest cities in our Nation. We lived through tough times, and will again.


    March 12, 2009 at 4:39 pm |

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