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93% of workers who lost jobs in recession suffered lifestyle changes

December 2, 2011 |  9:42 am

Unemployed
Only 7% of Americans who lost their jobs during the recession are doing as well as they were before unemployment, according to a new report.

The experience has left 93% of those who were laid off -– even those who have since been rehired -– with a temporary or permanently slumping lifestyle, according to the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

In a sluggish recovery, many job hunters have accepted less-prestigious positions, often working more hours for less pay. But on Friday, the Labor Department said the nation’s unemployment rate fell sharply to 8.6% last month from 9% in October.

Rutgers researchers, who surveyed workers who lost their jobs between August 2008 and August 2009, found that 23% of respondents said they’re on the upswing while 33% have since downsized.

But 36% said the recession “devastated” or “wrecked” them. Of that group, two-thirds had to sell possessions to make ends meet, borrow money from family or friends, or cut back food expenditures so much that it affected daily life.

Six in 10 visited doctors less while nearly three-quarters said they still feel ashamed or embarrassed about their situation.

Among all workers unemployed during the recession, more than half said their family relations were strained. Several sought professional help for depression or substance abuse.

Even now, 47% said their personal finances are in poor shape; 41% said the impact on their standard of living will be permanent.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Robyn Beck /AFP

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