Layoffs have touched nearly every American household in some fashion over the past few years, according to survey data released Thursday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
While about 8 percent of Americans are unemployed, nearly a quarter of Americans say they were laid off at some point during the recession or afterward, according to the survey. More broadly, nearly eight in 10 say they know someone in their circle of family and friends who has lost a job.
"Almost everyone, four out of five, were directly or one step removed from unemployment and all that goes with it — financially, socially, psychologically," said Cliff Zukin, a public policy and political science professor at Rutgers and co-author of the report.
The survey presented a bleak view of the economic future.
A majority of Americans say they think it will be at least six years before the economy is made whole again, if ever. Three in 10 said the economy would never fully recover from the Great Recession.
Just a third of those surveyed in the poll, conducted from Jan. 9 to 16, said they thought the economy would be better next year.
Of those laid off in recent years, nearly a quarter said they still had not found a job. Re-employment rates for older workers have been particularly bad, with nearly two-thirds of unemployed people 55 or older saying they actively sought a job for more than a year before finding one or had still not found work.
Of those who have found work, nearly half say their current job is a step down from the one they lost, and a slim majority say they earn less than they did in their previous job. A quarter of those re-employed said they thought that the hit to their standard of living would be permanent.