|By Jane M. Von Bergen, The Philadelphia Inquirer|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
His ex-wife, living in
She called. He cried.
"When I lost my job, I didn't have the heart to tell her that my benefits had been cut," he said.
"I was so ashamed," he said. "I'm 1,800 miles from my kids, and I can't do anything for them."
By the statistics economists gather, the recession officially ended five years ago, in
"The recession is over?" Reynolds said. "I didn't get the memo. I've been struggling."
Five years after the recession, so much has changed in the world of work — celebrated, or at least noted, on
Hiring is up, with 209,000 jobs added in July, pulling the nation's total payrolls ahead of where they were when the recession began in
Even so, there is growing pessimism among the nation's workers, with Americans in all walks of life worried about the future. Financially, they are worse off, as wages have stagnated and many jobs created since the recession are in occupations that pay less.
"These are all patterns we saw after the Great Depression," said
"When these patterns go on for a very long period of time,"
They believe the pre-recession world of work as they knew it is gone or won't return for many years. The availability of good jobs at good pay for those willing to work — gone. Workers taking jobs below their capabilities — that's the new normal, the study said.
Afraid for their futures, workers are unwilling to take risks for themselves or their companies.
People who have decent jobs may be unwilling to leave them to create something new, such as a company or an invention.
People unhappy at work, for whatever reason, will "grin and bear it,"
"It breeds an individualism rather than a group effort,"
People who don't have jobs may stop looking. Why risk feeling bad when a job search seems fruitless? An economic statistic, the labor participation rate — people working or actively looking for work as a percentage of the working-age population — augments the story.
"We have the lowest labor participation in 30 years,"
"I don't think anybody feels secure," said
"It stifles innovation because people are unwilling to take any risk because of what may happen," she said. "If things don't work out, the next step is out the door."
"Here is what corporate America has lost," said
"If you went to work and worked hard, you were rewarded," she said. "People were willing to take chances at work. They were willing to try to make changes.
"Now, if you go to work, you aren't going to take any chance at all. You are going to do exactly what they tell you to do, no more, no less. You'll just be happy to be not knocked off your feet."
People insecure about their prospects are also less likely to spend, said University of
In the pharmaceutical world, where salaries and educational levels are high, Price said, some ex- employees of big pharmaceutical companies who have been laid off as the sector sheds jobs find themselves "rebadged," doing the same work for other companies at lower pay.
Working for less is typical, but it beats not working, which is why
"It used to be when I was laid off I could find a job immediately," she said. "Since 2011, I've been struggling to find a job that would pay me [enough] money to live."
Maybe her new job eventually will pay what she once earned, she said, but "I'm lucky I have a job."
His temporary job with a former employer would turn into a permanent one, effective this week.
Over the six years, he had some temporary engineering jobs, alternating them with stints manning
"I'm optimistic, I guess," he said. "Everything is changed. I feel like I lost six years of my life. It will take a while to get back to normal."
Five years ago, Reynolds had what he considered a good job, stocking supplies at
After losing that job in
Reynolds, 51, now earns
His wife drives an unregistered car without insurance. "She's scared, and I'm scared," he said. If the car fails, she'll lose her job. Neither of them makes enough money to make it different.
In his report, the Rutgers professor,
Reynold's take? His four children will definitely surpass him. "I keep hoping that somehow, this world will be better."
Then he laughed and added, "They'd actually have to try to do worse."
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