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Great Apprehension: Majority of Americans ‘are fearful of losing their job,’ analyst says

Insight Global President Jessica Calzaretta joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the June jobs report, recession fears, job security, the labor force participation rate, and the outlook for employers.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Welcome back. Could the great resignation be turning into the great apprehension? That's the theory of our next guest, who says recession fears are hitting the workforce in the US. And let's bring in Jessica Calzaretta, Insight Global President. Thank you for joining us here today. And you've dug up some surprising facts here. Just outline your thesis and some of the numbers here, please.

JESSICA CALZARETTA: Yeah, sure. Thank you. Well, what we found is that the majority of Americans, 78%, in fact, are fearful of losing their job if there is a recession. And even more interesting, 54% of American workers say that they'd be willing to take a pay cut in order to keep their job should there be an upcoming recession. So I think it's fair to say that what was once the great resignation is, in fact, perhaps the great apprehension, as more and more American workers are feeling more stress and anxiety about their job security.

- Well, and let me tie this back to the unemployment report that we got today, the non-farm payrolls report, because there was some statistics in there that I found a little bit alarming. And that has to do with the labor force participation rate, which ticked down. That means there are fewer people in the job market.

Now, if you break it down demographically, we saw an increase among both white males and females, but we saw a decrease in Blacks and Asian leaving the workforce. So my question to you is, do you break this down demographically? And any recent trends that you're noting that might be supported with the most latest-- with the latest data that we got today?

JESSICA CALZARETTA: Yeah, I certainly do think that there are some demographic trends to be paying attention to. I mean, as it relates to job security and feelings of worry or anxiety about job security in the marketplace, women, in particular, are feeling the most insecure about job security. And I think you have to take a look back at what's happened over the past two years with the pandemic-induced recession of 2020. Women were arguably most impacted during that time. And so I think it's safe to understand how women may be feeling about this, in particular.

Another interesting takeaway from our surveys that millennials are also incredibly worried. I think that speaks to maybe some of the battle scars that exist from when they first entered the workforce during the Great Recession of '08 and '09. And unfortunately, that demographic is not feeling very prepared for how to handle a recession financially, economically, should that-- should events take a turn for the worse.

- Yeah, that's a really good point. I'm glad you brought that up because millennials who were trying to enter the workforce-- and I knew a few back in the day, in, say, 2009 '10, '11, '12-- had a very difficult time finding jobs, and they got their first job at a lower wage. And so that lower wage has been tracking them ever since.

And this kind of relates to my next question, which this is one of your stats here, not surprising. 9 out of 10 managers in the US, 87%, say they would be likely to lay off employees should there be a recession. That's what happens. But nearly half of employees do not trust that their employer would adequately communicate its plans should there be a recession. That's only increasing people's fears and uncertainty in the workplace.

JESSICA CALZARETTA: Yeah, you're exactly right. I mean, you know, I think it is bad out there right now for a lot of people. There's a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety, not just about job security, but just about what's happening in the world, with inflation rising, the lingering war in Ukraine. You know, you're seeing major employers and organizations, companies like Netflix and Tesla, who have announced recent job cuts.

And so I think there is definitely founding here for employees to be really concerned about their safety and their security, which, at Insight Global, we would just encourage employers to really lean in here and to communicate early and often about their recession plans, because if, in fact, a recession is coming, you're going to want your people at your best. And if people feel unsafe or if they do not have job security, then you're just not going to get their most productive or most engaged self. And so we believe in protecting your core, communicating early and often to your people about your recession plan, and leading with as much trust and transparency as possible.

- Yes, an open and honest and transparent workplace is a happy workplace, most times. Not always, but we deal with that. One-- another stat here. 56% of American workers say they don't feel financially prepared for a recession or say they don't know how they would prepare for a recession. That is a shockingly high number. That's more than half. So how are people-- I guess are there initiatives-- and I guess this is getting beyond the study itself-- what can we do to increase this number here?

JESSICA CALZARETTA: Well, I think employers first have to recognize their responsibility in taking that number and driving it down. I mean, I think the more tools and resources that you can provide to your employees about how to prepare for an economic downturn, how to practice cost savings measures, how to control the controllables, I mean, that will only increase that feeling of safety and belonging, and hopefully drive more engagement to be able to drive better results, ultimately, for people personally, but also for organizations as a whole.

- We've got time for one more here. And I'll just give this to you generally. Any surprising stats that you've come across in this report or any other surveys that you've conducted recently?

JESSICA CALZARETTA: You know, I think it's a stat that you mentioned earlier. Nearly half of American workers do not feel that their employer would adequately or clearly communicate their plans for a recession. I mean, that just is-- that speaks to perhaps the lack of trust that exists between employees and their employers. And I think, as leaders, we all have to recognize our responsibility there. You know, again, if we want to really thrive through challenging times in a recession scenario, then we certainly are going to want our people at their best.

And that does demand an extraordinary amount of trust between our workers. And so I think, as employers, we just have to really challenge ourselves to be thinking about how we are communicating with our people, how we are leaning into these challenging and uncertain times to provide as much clarity as possible. Even not having the answers, saying that clearly to your workforce can build such incredible trust measures that will keep your people engaged for the long haul.

- I don't know. Very simple words, and they are powerful indeed. Really appreciate you underscoring that. Once again, Jessica Calzaretta, Insight Global President, thanks for joining us.