Economy

One in Five Employed Americans Worried About Wage Reduction

by Rebecca Riffkin

Story Highlights

  • Fewer worried about wage reduction than in 2009 through 2013
  • Fewer Americans worried about most job aspects than in 2011
  • Worries about jobs moving overseas constant, but low

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One in five employed Americans say they are worried their wages will be reduced in the near future. This is noticeably lower than the percentage of Americans who were worried about wage reductions from 2009 through 2013, amid the erratic and uneven economic times after the Great Recession.

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Between 2003 and 2008, 16% of employed Americans, on average, reported they were worried about their wages being reduced. This percentage doubled in 2009 as unemployment surged to 10% after the financial crisis, and the percentage of workers who were worried remained high through 2013 before falling to 24% in 2014 and 20% today.

This is one of five employment concerns Gallup has tracked annually as part of its August Work and Education survey. Worker concerns peaked on all five measures between 2009 and 2011 and have since receded on each to varying degrees. However, concern about wage loss has decreased the most, falling 13 percentage points since 2011.

Workers' concern about having their hours cut back has declined almost as much, falling 11 points since 2011 to 19% today. And while concern about reduced benefits remains the top employment worry at 34%, this is down 10 points from a high of 44% in 2011. Fear of being laid off has declined eight points to 22% since 2011, while concern that one's company will move jobs overseas -- never a major worry -- is down slightly to 9%.

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Since 2003, shifts in workers' fears of employment cutbacks have closely paralleled changes in the U.S. unemployment rate, which peaked at 9% or higher from early 2009 through late 2011, and has subsequently dropped about one point each year.

Bottom Line

As the unemployment rate has declined, fewer Americans are worried about various aspects of their jobs than even a few years ago -- including being laid off, but also cuts in pay, benefits or hours. Decreases in worry follow a timeline similar to that of other improving economic trends Gallup has found over the past few years, such as its Job Creation Index, the Economic Confidence Index and consumer spending. This could be a positive sign that Americans see their lives returning to the way things were in the early 2000s, although not quite all the way. Or it could be that workers now see conditions as a new reality after the Great Recession and thus not a cause for worry.

Historical data on these questions are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 5-9, 2015, with a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the sample of 485 adults who are employed full or part time, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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