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August 11, 2010
The Recession Has Impacted Your Employees: How Can You Help?
The "Great Recession," as the Pew Research Center refers to it, may be affecting your employees more than you realize. A national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 55% of adults in the labor force say that since the Great Recession began over 2 years ago, they have suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers.

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This means that even if your employees have not personally been affected by any reductions in force or reduced work schedules within your organization, it’s probably likely that someone in their household has, which in turn, will impact your employees as well.

A few details taken out of the survey report, conducted through telephone interviews among 2,967 currently employed respondents, follow:

  • Work hours reduced—28%
  • Pay cut—23%
  • Had to take unpaid leave—12%
  • Forced to switch to part-time—11%

According to the executive summary of the survey, released on June 30, 2010, “The recession has led to a new frugality in Americans’ spending and borrowing habits, a diminished set of expectations about their retirements and their children’s future, and a concern that it will take several years, at a minimum, for their family finances and house values to recover.”

Also, 54% of survey respondents said that the U.S. economy is still in a recession; 41% believe that it is beginning to come out of it; and only 3% said the recession is over.

According to the report, 48% of the respondents said they are in worse financial shape now than before the recession began. Federal government data backs that up with statistics that show average household wealth falling by about 20% from 2007 to 2009, largely due to declining house values and retirement account values.

“This is the biggest meltdown in U.S. household wealth in the post-World War II era,” states the report. “Of those who say their family finances have lost ground during the Recession, 63% say it will take at least 3 years to recover.”

In addition, the report notes, “nearly one third (32%) of adults now say that they are not confident that they will have enough income and assets to finance their retirement.”

When thinking about educational programs being planned for your staff, topics such as financial management, retirement planning, and stress-reduction techniques probably should be at the top of the list. In addition, remind your staff about the availability of employee assistance program services in the event that they could use counseling or advice.

The entire survey report (a 118-page PDF) is available for download at no cost.

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