What recovery? Many workers still stuck in recession

A survey finds that low-wage employees feel worse off now than they were during the economic downturn.

By Jason Notte Mar 21, 2013 9:14AM
Young Woman Florist Small Business Flower Shop Owner, Checkout Counter -YinYang, the Agency Collection, Getty ImagesA whole lot of American workers don't refer to the recession in past tense.

Those making $35,000 a year or less are not only still feeling the effects of the devastating downturn, but they're unsure if they'll ever pull out of it. A two-part Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey finds that low-wage workers are feeling worse off now than they were during the recession, while The Wall Street Journal finds unemployed Americans feeling similarly low.

The AP-NORC survey found that half of low-end workers were "not too" or "not at all" confident that their jobs would help them meet their long-term career goals. As its stands, only 41% of workers who have been in dead-end jobs for more than a decade reported ever receiving a promotion.

Their unemployed counterparts, meanwhile, are seeing their jobless benefits shrink from recession-era levels as strapped states cut back. Payouts are shrinking, the length of time unemployed workers are offered benefits is shriveling and alternative options keep disappearing.

Their problems aren't solved by newfound employment, either. Through last month, the U.S. economy had recovered 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the recession. Low-wage jobs are usually the first to come back after a slump, and roughly 65% of the jobs added since the recession officially ended in June 2009 have been the low-wage variety.

Among those holding such jobs, 71% worry about not being able to pay bills, 70% worry about unexpected medical expenses and 53% are still concerned about keeping up with the mortgage. While 44% report that their wages have stagnated over the last five years and 20% say that their pay has dropped, more than half -- 53% -- are far more concerned about losing their job than about their current pay.

A full 74% of low-wage workers said they were satisfied with their job overall, according to an AP survey in September, but that's still well below the 90% of all workers who said the same.

Those without jobs, however, need to convince employers that they're worth hiring. Forty-four percent of employers surveyed said it's tough to find people with the appropriate skills and experience to fill lower-wage jobs, particularly in manufacturing (54%).

While 88% of employers said they were investing in training and education for employees, few low-wage workers were aware of or used such programs. If employers need better workers and their employees need more training, someone needs to step up and start making that connection -- before what feels like a recession actually becomes one again.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 21, 2013 10:33AM
Folks, you need to wake up and realize that it's the same 'status quo' in the White House. The changing of the guard picked up right where the last one left off. The agenda is crystal clear, Wall Street over Main Street, more government, more regulations, higher taxes. The DOW is at an all time high but is anyone feeling it in their quality of life? In their wages? In their retirement? Interest rates are at  zero for the next century while inflation creeps up, stealing from savers and retirees and transferring that wealth to banks and corporations. We live in a consumer debt economy not in a production savings economy. Those days are gone! All these artificially propped stats and figures are quite different from reality and life on the street.
Mar 21, 2013 10:13AM

There are few individuals who are benefitting from the recovery.  It is mostly being captured by corporate profits and dividends to shareholders, not trickled-down to employees.  Most jobs being generated are low-paying, and those with better jobs have stagnant earnings, working their asses off due to sparse staffing, and hanging on by their fingernails.

Mar 21, 2013 10:14AM
The "Recovery" is just another Obama fairy tale.  Whatever Obama says, the truth is the opposite.

The country deserves the direction it elects. 51% says Obama is the answer. Voters had a chance to vot for a man who was employed, and was an employer, both of which Obama has never done. As a conservative, I admit Romney was not my selection for president, but this economy would have had a better chance at yielding positive results.

Defend this, Obama frees 2k illegals from jails, blames others. He stops White House tours. He blames both because of sequestration, an idea HE said he would not stop.

74k dollars a day to run WH tours, 250 million to Egypt.

The man will take this country further down. Maybe he gets at the rich some more, but if you don't believe that you the employee or the consumer won't pay for it, well then you're just not being realistic.

Mar 21, 2013 9:42AM
To feel better about right now, you have to feel better about the future. With Wages being held back and Companies keeping profits mostly for those at the top, why should those in middle or at the bottom feel better about what's to come?
Mar 21, 2013 10:13AM
Most of these low-wage workers have been decimated these last few years.  Most of them are really worried about meeting their financial obligations, and most are really pessimistic about their future.  And yet, they voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Obama.  Brilliant.
Mar 21, 2013 9:46AM

9.5% Unemployment in New Jersey since 2008. Bureau of Labor Statistic, so that's probably low.


Figures lie and Liars figure.



Mar 21, 2013 11:46AM
It's not just the low-wage workers having trouble. Many former medium to high wage workers are now unemployed or making MUCH less than they used to. Education is no cure-all either. Corporations have successfully hoodwinked (or bribed) the politicians to subscribe to the myth that expanding the H1-B visa program is good for America.

We have MANY talented, educated, and experienced AMERICAN STEM workers sitting idle while low-wage H1-B workers are imported into our country, live 10 people to a 2 bedroom apartment, perform WORSE doing the same job Americans should be doing, but at least the C-level execs are making hundreds of times what the average worker makes so yeehaw for America!

These H1-B workers drive down the wages for all American STEM workers, they de-incentivize future generations from obtaining costly and difficult education, they get experience and training and take it back to their own country.

This is a TERRIBLE situation for American STEM workers AND for the rest of America (except for highly-bonused C-level execs, immigration lawyers, and politicians!).

END H1-B NOW!!!!

There never was a recovery. Thats Obama propaganda. What we have is an artificial economy that will crash when Obamas print money and borrow scheme finally collapses.
Mar 21, 2013 1:17PM
At an additional $63 per employee, per month, ObamaCare is doing a fabulous job of incentivizing companies to push their workforce and their corporate offices overseas - where they bear non of those costs....it's economic stupidity - from guess who?
Mar 21, 2013 10:28AM
"The Recovery" as filmed in Obamarama.
Mar 21, 2013 1:21PM
The main people who are profiting in this country are the wealthy and rich people. Wall Street continues to set records while at the same time they are burying the working and poorer class of people in this country with record gas and food prices along with everything else. I just hope that they enjoy the gravy train while it lasts because sooner or later the big bubble will burst and the walls will come crashing down around them. They are not going to continue to prosper if the consumers are steadily getting poorer by the day in this country.
Mar 21, 2013 1:42PM
You can't run a $25 an hour economy on a $10 an hour wage. When the average job can't pay for the essentials of food, shelter, clothing and transportation something has to give. Either wages have to increase or prices have to decrease. Economics is not a strong suit in politics as we all already know.
Mar 21, 2013 11:19AM
That's why they're low end workers....no worries, Obama will give them taxpayer millions for doing nothing...that should motivate them
Mar 21, 2013 1:44PM
"What recovery? Many workers still stuck in recession
A survey finds that low-wage employees feel worse off now than they were during the economic downturn." 


Why didn't they say this during the elections??

Mar 21, 2013 1:36PM
Hey Obummer!  Send more money to our friends in the ME!   Millions that could help the American people. 
Mar 21, 2013 12:39PM

To those of you who say jobs have moved oversees because of corporate greed, here are some questions for you.

How far out of your way are you willing to go to buy American?

How much more are you willing to pay to buy American?

Is it really corporate greed or union and worker greed that caused jobs to move out of this country?

How many benefits are you willing to give up to have some of these jobs back?

How many of you have agreed with government over-regulation of business?

How many of you have stood side-by-side with your employer to fight over regulation?


I’m sure I can answer for most of the complainers.

Mar 21, 2013 12:04PM
The GLOBALIST  Illusion will end soon...The state own media's propaganda mill will not be able to hide it any longer. People are waking up daily to the Council  Foreign Relation and the Media's Global Agenda and it's move towards communism and global power and Control with the media sellout help presenting skews views on the economy, global warming. and global solutions......Gun control aims to disarm American and there is no hope...They fool themselves........WE WILL STOP THEM...!!! Make no mistake...They will IMPLODE ON THEIR EMPTY ASSERTIONS...THESE WORLD GLOBAL COMMUNIST WILL BE DEFEATED WORLDWIDE.....!!! THE JOBLESS COVER-UP and MANIPULATION OF THE ECONOMIC NEWS AND MEDIA'S FAILURE TO REPORT THE TRUTH WILL BE THEIR FAILURE...THE TRUTH WILL WIN ALWAYS...AND THE FOUNDATION OF THE AMERICAN WAY...!
Mar 21, 2013 1:47PM
It is all ****.  There is no real estate recovery, job recovery, money recovery.  We are screwed folks.  We are going to go into a real depression and war is on its way.  No, really, I am a positive guy.  I am positive we are ****ed
Mar 21, 2013 1:54PM
We are facing a 20% salary cut in April.  I guess that is better than no job at all.  So that will also affect my community as well as me personally, mortgage, car payment, gas, water, garbage, electric still have to pay, groceries, car gas etc.  so guess what, no movies, no eating out, no clothes, no shoes, no gifts, no unnecessary travel; so my already hurting community is going to be worse off.  I drive down the street and feel so bad seeing buildings boarded up, going out of business signs and even more people on the street.  I don't know if I'll be able to keep my house, but I do KNOW my FAITH will see me through.  If this is "recovery" then we are all circling the bowl.  Just wait till that Obama care kicks in..............................SAD-SAD-SAD
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