Not in the rear-view mirror yet: US workers still feel effects of recession

Sep 17, 2013 by Jill Elish

The U.S. recession that began in December 2007 may have officially ended in June 2009, but in terms of job status, pay and retirement options, American workers are feeling its lingering negative impact, according to a new study by Florida State University Professor Wayne Hochwarter.

Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in Florida State's College of Business, found that the effects of the recession remain a "distraction at work" for about 40 percent of workers.

Recession-related stress is still contributing to the workers' dissatisfaction and frustration with work, feelings of isolation, about the future of their companies, career disappointment, job anxiety and burnout, and perceptions that co-workers are overly political and self-serving, according to a of more than 600 blue- and white-collar workers this past spring.

"I view the recession as a ," said a plant manager who responded to the survey. "The crash may be over, but the car will never be the same even after we did our best to fix it."

Another respondent, an administrative assistant, who lost her job during the recession and was forced to re-locate, said she has "frequent nightmares about that time in my life."

Of the survey respondents in Hochwarter's study:

  • 44 percent said "they still must work harder as a result of the recession in their organization."
  • 49 percent reported "they still must do more with less due to the recession."
  • 34 percent indicated that "management still cuts them less slack when compared to pre-recession levels."
  • 30 percent said their " remains lower than its pre-recession level."
  • 46 percent indicated that "management is stingier than before the start of the recession."

In terms of managing persistent levels of stress, Hochwarter encourages managers to be both proactive and flexible.

An industrial said, "Management just doesn't see how bad it is because it really isn't all that bad for them. But it is for the rest of us."

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