WASHINGTON American workers are worried about job security and want the government to help them gain new skills and prevent jobs from being shipped overseas, according to a national survey.
The survey, which Rutgers University released this past week, shows workers are as anxious now as they were during the 2001 recession, and their worries have persisted despite economic gains after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Co-author Carl Van Horn said workers are gloomier these days due to tighter credit, falling house prices, rising costs for health care, food and gasoline, and layoffs in some industries.
"That's just the new normal, and people don't like the new normal," Van Horn said. "There's just a lot of bad news out there, and the workplace is just one of the weak spots."
Timed to coincide with Monday's observance of Labor Day, the survey polled 1,000 working and unemployed people nationally. That includes 587 currently employed male and female workers of varying ages and ethnicities drawn from blue- and white-collar professions. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
It found that, of those surveyed:
• 32 percent were "very" concerned about job security and 43 percent were "somewhat" concerned.
• 80 percent want the government to prevent jobs from moving overseas.
• 73 percent want the government to pay for job-retraining programs.
• 43 percent don't think they will have enough money to retire.
• 53 percent said they are "very" satisfied with their jobs, and 38 percent were "somewhat" satisfied.
Though people felt a lot more optimistic during the prosperous 1990s, the job market was more volatile back then, said Harry Holzer, a fellow at the Urban Institute and former labor economist under President Clinton. The difference was that people were confident of landing new work quickly if they got laid off, an optimism that no longer exists, he said.