Friday, September 01, 2006

Three Polls Find Workers Sensing Deep Pessimism

Steve Greenhouse, New York Times August 31, 2006

Three new opinion polls released yesterday found deep pessimism among American workers, with most saying that wages were not keeping pace with inflation and that workers were worse off in many ways than a generation ago.

The Pew Research Center found in a survey of 2,003 adults completed last month that an overwhelming majority said workers had less job security and faced more on-the-job stress than 20 or 30 years ago.

The nonpartisan Pew center, said, “The public thinks that workers were better off a generation ago than they are now on every key dimension of worker life —be it wages, benefits, retirement plans, on-the-job stress, the loyalty they are shown by employers or the need to regularly upgrade work skills.”

In a poll of 803 registered voters commissioned by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. , Peter D.Hart Research found that 55 percent said their incomes were not keeping up withinflation, 33 percent said their incomes were keeping even and 9 percent said their incomes were outpacing inflation.

“The split is not helping American workers,” he said. “But we are working very closely with many of the disaffiliated unions.”

A poll of 800 nonsupervisory workers released yesterday by Lake Research Partners found that 51 percent said the next generation would be worse off economically, 27 percent said the next generation would fare about the same and 18 percent said it would be better off.

The poll, for Change to Win, the coalition of unions that left the A.F.L.-C.I.O., found that 63 percent of respondents said the economy was on the wrong track and 28 percent said it was going in the right direction.

“These results tell us that five years into an economic recovery workingfamilies are feeling battered and are losing hope for the future,” said Anna Burger, chairwoman of Change to Win.

The Pew survey found that 69 percent said there was more on-the-job stress than a decade ago, 62 percent said there was less job security and 59 percent said Americans had to worker harder to earn decent livings. Thirteen percent said they did not have to work as hard, and 26 percent said they work about the same.

One factor increasing anxiety is the corporate trend to send job overseas. The Pew poll found that 31 percent of respondents said it would be possible for their employer to hire someone outside the country for their job. Seventy-seven percent said outsourcing jobs to other countries hurt American workers, while 13 percent said it helped.

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