Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From Bob Herbert's column in today's New York Times:

A national survey of jobless workers by a pair of professors at Rutgers University shows just how traumatized the work force has become in this downturn. Two-thirds of respondents said that they had become depressed. More than half said it was the first time they had ever lost a job, and 80 percent said there was little or no chance that they would be able to get their jobs back when the economy improves.

The 1,200 respondents were jobless at some point over the past year, and most — 894 — are still unemployed. More than half said that they had been forced to borrow money from friends or relatives, and a quarter have missed their mortgage or rent payments.

The survey found that affluent, well-educated workers, who had traditionally been able to withstand a downturn in reasonably good shape, were being hit hard this time around.

The professors, Carl Van Horn and Cliff Zukin, described that phenomenon as “a metric of the recession’s seismic impact.” Of the workers who found themselves unemployed for the first time, more than one in four had been earning $75,000 or more annually.

“This is not your ordinary dip in the business cycle,” said Mr. Van Horn. “Americans believe that this is the Katrina of recessions. Folks are on their rooftops without a boat.”


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