About one quarter of the nation’s 14.9 million unemployed workers have missed a mortgage, rent, or credit card payment according to a comprehensive national survey of 1,200 Americans nationwide who have been unemployed and looking for a job in the past 12 months, including 894 who are still jobless.
The survey by the John J. Heldrich C.enter for Workforce Development, a research and policy center at Rutgers University, portrays a shaken, traumatized people coping with serious financial and psychological effects from an economic downturn of epic proportions.
Three in four unemployed workers say the economic situation has had a major impact on them and their family. Two-thirds say they are depressed and over half have borrowed money from friends or relatives.
Most unemployed were unprepared for unemployment. Sixty percent of the recently unemployed lost their jobs suddenly, without advance warning. Eight in ten got two week’s notice or less. Just 15 percent of the jobless received any severance, and virtually none were offered retraining. Only 40 percent of the currently unemployed received unemployment insurance to help them weather the economic crisis and 83 percent of those who did receive aid are concerned that their benefits will run out before they find a job. Only half of the jobless have health benefits.
Job loss is hitting more affluent workers and educated professionals hard, most of whom are homeowners. More than one in four of those who were unemployed for the first time earned $75,000 or more in their previous job; one in four first-time unemployed workers have at least a four-year college degree.
“The proportion of people who have been forced to move is in double-digits and a non-insignificant number have been forced to declare bankruptcy. The jobless have had to face the fact that their old jobs, incomes, and work identity are gone. They are our neighbors, our former colleagues, and they are living in a world of hurt,” said Cliff Zukin, co-director of the study and a senior fellow at the Heldrich Center.