By Dr. Cliff Zukin, Dr. Carl E. Van Horn, and Charley Stone
Rutgers University Working Paper, 5 December 2011
Words like ‘shameful’ and ‘national disgrace’ do come to mind.
In August 2009, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey began following a nationally representative sample of American workers who lost a job during the height of the Great Recession.
The research began with a cross-sectional sample of 1,202 who had said they had lost a job at some point in the preceding 12 months (between August 2008 and 2009). They were resurveyed in March 2010, again in November 2010, and then in August 2011.
A total of 3,972 individual surveys were completed over the two years. Well over half of the original respondents participated in all four waves of the project, meaning they spent, on average, 50 minutes of their time responding to roughly 200 questionnaire items.
This resulting measure combines an assessment of the respondent/family’s current economic status with the magnitude of change in the quality of daily life, with an assessment of whether this change represents a new normal or is a temporary stay in limbo. Combining answers to these three questions result in a typology with five groups, defined as follows:
� Workers who have MADE IT BACK consider themselves in excellent, good, or fair financial shape and have experienced no change in their standard of living due to the recession.
� People ON THEIR WAY BACK have largely experienced a minor change to their standard of living, but say the change is temporary. They also consider themselves in excellent, good, or fair financial shape.
�� Workers who have been DOWNSIZED meet one of three conditions; they have experienced: a minor change that is permanent; a minor change that is temporary, but they are in poor financial shape; or a major change in their standard of living that is temporary and they are in at least fair financial shape.
� Workers classified as DEVASTATED have experienced a major change to their lifestyle due to the recession. They can be either in poor financial shape and think the change is temporary, or in fair financial shape but think this change is permanent.
� Workers that have been TOTALLY WRECKED by this recession have experienced a major change to their lifestyle that is permanent and are in poor financial shape.
Read the rest of this working paper here.