Despite Strong Labor Market Data, 75% of Americans Are Worried About Widespread Job Losses

Nearly 2 in 5 adults are worried about losing their own job
April 20, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

Americans’ work priorities continue to shift more than three years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers now face high inflation and a barrage of negative headlines around the economy, while employers struggle to strike a balance between in-office and remote work. Download Morning Consult’s 2023 State of Workers report here.

Even as the U.S. economy continues to show signs of strength in the labor market, with 236,000 jobs added last month and unemployment near 50-year lows, new Morning Consult data finds that Americans are deeply worried about the looming threat of layoffs, with 75% saying they are concerned about widespread job losses.

3 in 4 Americans Concerned About Widespread Job Losses

Share of U.S. adults who said they were concerned about the following:
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Survey conducted April 12-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Youngest Americans feel least secure in their jobs

  • Nearly 2 in 5 U.S. adults are concerned about losing their own job, including 17% of baby boomers, 45% of Gen Xers, 56% of millennials and 52% of Gen Zers. 
  • Among the general public, 31% said they are “very concerned” about widespread job losses and 22% said they are “very concerned” about losing their own job. 
  • Republican adults (81%) are more likely to be concerned about widespread layoffs than Democrats (72%) or independents (75%). 

Americans Split on How the Job Market Could Play Out

The shares of respondents who said they think the following about U.S. jobs:
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Survey conducted April 12-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Public is relatively split on whether the country will add or lose jobs in next six months

  • More than a quarter of U.S. adults think the country will add jobs in the next six months, while 3 in 10 expect job losses over the same period.
  • Democrats are the most optimistic about the U.S. job market, with 39% saying they expect the economy to add jobs in the next six months, compared to 21% of independents and 17% of Republicans who said the same. 
  • Republicans are the most pessimistic when it comes to job losses across industries, with 57% saying they expect any job losses to be widespread, while 28% of GOP adults said they think job losses would be relegated to specific industries. 
  • Equal shares of Democrats (40%) said job losses would be widespread or afflict a few specific industries, while 43% of independents think job losses would be spread across industries and 31% say they would be industry-specific. 

Lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years can’t jolt Americans out of their economic gloom

Bad news travels fast — and it may be harder to unstick. While high-level economic data continues to baffle economists and the likelihood of a recession remains uncertain, the U.S. job market has shown continuing durability. Morning Consult found that in March, the share of U.S. adults who reported lost pay or income fell to 9.5%, down from 9.7% in February, with income losses remaining relatively low across industries. The country’s unemployment rate fell in March to 3.5%, close to a 50-year low. 

News headlines don’t offer Americans much peace, however. For every official or chief executive who characterizes the possible coming recession as “mild” — including the Federal Reserve, Bank of America Corp. CEO Brian Moynihan and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — there are also announcements of thousands of layoffs at big-name firms such as Amazon.com Inc., McDonald's Corp., Meta Platforms Inc., Walmart Inc., Best Buy Co ., Accenture PLC and Ernst & Young.

The April 12-14, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Amanda Jacobson Snyder previously worked at Morning Consult as a data reporter covering finance.

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