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The Wide Reach of A Faltering Job Market

New unemployment figures from the Department of Labor show average new jobless claims for the past four weeks up more than 200,000 from a year ago to their highest level since Dec. 1982.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll found job cuts reaching a broad swath of Americans: nearly two in 10 reported they or someone in their household had lost a job in the past few months, and almost three in 10 said their household had been hit with a pay cut or reduced hours at work.

A sizable chunk of those who have jobs feel insecure in their current position: More than two in 10 workers, 21 percent, said it's likely they'll lose their jobs over the next 12 months, the highest level in polls dating back to 1975. Barely more than half, 53 percent, said it's likely they could find a job as good as their current one should they get the axe.

The poll found job losses have had greater reach among respondents under age 50, with those under age 30 particularly hard hit. One-quarter of these younger workers reported suffering a job loss. More, four in 10, said they or someone in their household took a hit in pay or hours. That figure stands at just over two in 10 among all other age groups combined. Nevertheless, younger workers express greater optimism at finding a comparable job, with two-thirds saying it was likely they could find an equally good replacement.

Job losses have also had disproportionate impact on those without college degrees - 21 percent reported a job loss, 30 percent a cut in earnings or hours - and in lower income brackets - 23 percent of those in households earning $50,000 or less reported a job loss, 17 percent with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 and just 8 percent among those with incomes higher than that.

These workers are also least likely to feel secure in their current job. About one-quarter, 24 percent, of workers without a college degree said they feel as though they are on the chopping block, compared with 16 percent of college graduates. Those with household incomes below $50,000 are about twice as likely to feel they might lose their job as are those in higher income brackets, 31 percent to 16 percent.

Union membership does not appear to be a lifeline. Nearly four in 10 union householders reported losses in wages or hours, and three in 10 said they or someone in their household had lost a job.

Q. In the last few months have you or has anyone living in your household... (% saying "yes")

            Laid off/    Cut in
            Lost job    pay/hours
All           18           27

18-29         25           40
30-39         21           25
40-49         20           32
50+           11           17

Non-college   21           30
College       11           19

HH income:
<$50,000      23           31
$50K-$100K    17           31
$100,000+      8           14

Q. (IF EMPLOYED) Thinking about the next 12 months, how likely do you think it is that you will lose your job or be laid off - very likely, fairly likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

              ------ Likely -----   ----- Not Likely -----
              NET   Very   Fairly   NET   Not too   At all
All           21     10      11     78      30        48

18-29         18     10       8     79      24        55
30-39         26     11      14     74      35        39
40-49         20     10      10     79      26        53
50+           20      6      14     79      35        44

Non-college   24     11      12     75      28        46
College       16      5      10     84      33        51

HH income:
<$50,000      31     19      12     67      29        38
$50K-$100K    19      7      12     81      28        53
$100,000+     12      2      10     87      36        51

Q. (IF EMPLOYED) If you were to lose your job, how likely is it that you would find another job just as good as the one you have now - very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?

              ------ Likely -----   ----- Not Likely -----
              NET   Very   Smwhat   NET   Not very  At all
All           53     22      31     47      23        23

18-29         64     29      35     36      16        21
30-39         53     20      34     47      26        21
40-49         52     24      28     48      20        28
50+           42     15      27     56      31        25

Non-college   50     20      29     50      22        28
College       57     24      33     42      26        16

HH income:
<$50,000      47     21      26     53      22        31
$50K-$100K    50     23      27     50      23        27
$100,000+     60     21      38     40      25        15

Complete data and methodology information from this poll can be found here.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  December 18, 2008; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Crosstabs , Post Polls  
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