25 percent of employed were jobless during recession, study says

By Michael A. Fletcher Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2010; 10:32 PM

Just over a quarter of the nation's 139 million currently employed workers endured a bout of unemployment during the Great Recession, according to results of a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday. And they tend to be less satisfied in their current jobs than are other workers.

Re-employed workers were more likely than others to see themselves as overqualified for their jobs, and six in 10 said they either changed careers or seriously considered doing so while they were out of work.

Pew's survey of re-employed workers was taken as the nation endures the longest bout of long-term unemployment since World War II. Almost 45 percent of the nation's 14.6 million jobless Americans have been unemployed for at least six months.

The Pew poll also found that many re-employed workers' new jobs did not last long. More than one-third of those surveyed suffered two of more periods of unemployment during the recession, and one in six was thrown out of work three or more times.

Despite their travails, nearly eight in 10 re-employed workers said they are satisfied in their new jobs, according to the survey. But the satisfaction level was even higher - 89 percent - for workers who did not lose their jobs in the recession.

"These 're-employed workers' have a complicated mix of attitudes about their new job," the report said.

Just over four in 10 re-employed workers said their new jobs were better than their old ones. Nearly two in 10 said they were now higher paid, and just over a quarter said they enjoyed greater employee benefits than in their previous jobs.

Still, 55 percent said their families are worse off now economically than before the recession hit. And more than a third said the financial shock forced them into lifestyle adjustments.

Just over a quarter of re-employed workers went from full-time to part-time work, the survey found. Only a quarter of those are satisfied with their jobs, half the satisfaction rate of people who went from one full-time job to another.

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