The FINANCIAL — WASHINGTON, D.C. — American workers continue to express low levels of worry about being laid off from their jobs and near record-high levels of satisfaction with their job security. These positive attitudes have been evident for the last three years and reflect the low unemployment rate and reports of new job creation in the U.S.
Workers’ worries about being laid off have never been high on an absolute basis, even in times of relatively high unemployment. The percentage worried doubled between 2008 and 2009, from 15% to 31%, as the impact of the financial meltdown and recession became evident, but even that change left more than two-thirds who were not worried. The relatively higher levels of worry persisted through 2013 but dropped to 19% in 2014 and have remained between 18% and 22% since. However, the current 18% of workers who are worried about losing their jobs is not quite back down to the lowest Gallup measure of 14% in 2007.
A separate measure of employment perceptions on the annual Work and Education survey asks employed adults to say how satisfied they are with their own job security. At least six in 10 American workers have reported being “completely satisfied” with their job security since 2016 — higher than at any point since Gallup first asked this question in 1993. As on the worry measure, the percentage completely satisfied fell after the financial meltdown and recession to between 49% and 51% from 2009 through 2013. Prior to the recession, the highest percentage of workers who said they were completely satisfied with their job security was 56%.
Currently, in addition to the 63% of workers who say they are completely satisfied with their job security, another 27% are “somewhat” satisfied, leaving about one in 10 who are dissatisfied.
Concern About Job Security Reflects Politics
Workers’ attitudes about their job security, like so many other attitudes in today’s polarized political environment, differ based on underlying political identity. Democratic workers (including independents who lean Democratic) are more than twice as worried as Republicans and Republican-leaning independents about losing their jobs, and are significantly less likely to be completely satisfied with their job security.
These patterns have shifted to some degree over the course of the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump presidencies. As is the case now under Trump, Republicans were more positive about their job situation when Bush was in the White House. The pattern of the president’s own party members being more positive was more mixed during the Obama administration, which coincided with the financial crisis, but Democrats in a number of those years were at least modestly more positive than Republicans.
An analysis of aggregated data from surveys conducted between 2014 and 2018 shows that Hispanic workers and those in households earning less than $30,000 a year stand out as having relatively high worry about being laid off and as having lower levels of satisfaction with job security. Additionally, workers in the South appear to be modestly more positive about their job situation than those in the other regions of the country.