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Nearly Half of Employees Experiencing Layoff Anxiety

Tamara E. Holmes
Nearly Half of Employees Experiencing Layoff Anxiety

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at a relatively low 3.7% in July, but that hasn’t stopped employees across the nation from worrying about being laid off, a new survey shows.

Nearly half (48%) of the working adults questioned said they feared being let go by their employer, according to the 2019 Layoff Anxiety Study, conducted by human resources technology company CareerArc. To gather the data, CareerArc commissioned public opinion research firm Harris Poll to survey 2,024 adults, 1,061 of whom were employed when the survey was conducted between June 25 and 27.

Of those who feared a layoff could be looming, the largest percentage — 34% — blamed their concerns on talk of a looming recession. Another 32% said they were worried because of what they had heard in the office rumor mill, while 30% said their fear was justified by recent layoffs in their workplace.

Employees who’ve experienced a layoff in the past are especially anxious about history repeating itself. Among survey respondents, 40% said they had been laid off at least once in their professional lives. Of those who were without a job during the Great Recession, 74% admitted to experiencing anxiety about a potential layoff now. Thirty-six percent of that group said concerns about an upcoming recession were fueling that fear.

Women were more likely to have such recession fears, as 39% of women who suffered from layoff anxiety cited a pending recession as the cause of their anxiety, compared to 29% of men.

Overall, younger employees tended to be more anxious about their future job prospects, as 61% of workers aged 18-34 said they experienced layoff anxiety, compared to 41% of respondents 35 year and older.

Part of the anxiety among some respondents may be because they don’t feel adequately prepared to handle a layoff. Nearly half of those currently employed — 47% — said they don’t feel ready to handle a layoff, the survey found. Women were more likely to feel unprepared, with 54% of women feeling that way compared to 41% of men. Other factors also appeared to contribute to feelings of being unprepared for a layoff:

  • 63% of renters felt unprepared, compared to 42% of homeowners
  • 54% of those without a college degree felt unprepared, compared to 36% of those with a college degree
  • 63% of those with a household income less than $50,000 per year felt unprepared, compared to 41% of those with a household income of $50,000 or more
  • 53% of parents with kids under 18 felt unprepared, compared to 43% of those without kids under 18

While experiencing a layoff could be a blow to both your ego and your finances, you can take certain steps to make a future job loss more bearable as you search for new work.

One thing you can do is to make sure you have a sizable emergency fund that can see you through several months of job searching. If your savings are low, consider padding your bank account by taking on a part-time job or picking up a side-hustle.

Also, if you’re concerned about an upcoming recession, take some time to research whether your field is one that is more likely to be safe in a recession.