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Half of adults experience work gaps or pay cuts during recession

June 30, 2010 | 12:34 pm

Work Although the country's unemployment rate has hovered around 10% during the economic slowdown, more than half of adults have suffered a spell of unemployment or a cut in pay since the recession began 30 months ago, according to a report released today by the Pew Research Center.

About 55% of the 2,967 adults surveyed said they'd experienced work-related problems since December 2007. Among those currently employed, 28% said their hours had been reduced, 23% said they'd been forced to take a pay cut and 12% had to take unpaid leave. About 11% said they were forced to switch to part time.

The survey, conducted in May, found that one-third of people in the labor force have been unemployed at some point during the recession. And nearly two-thirds say they've cut back their spending since the recession began. Half say they're in worse financial shape than they were when the recession began.

"The economy is bad. It's so slow," said Mateo Moran, 51, a onetime gardener who lost his job over four years ago. The North Hollywood resident has taken to standing outside of a U-Haul store to try to find work, but he usually doesn't work as much as he needs to support his family.

Adults age 50 to 64 are most likely to say they're in worse financial shape than they were before the recession began.  And one-third of the people surveyed said they aren't confident they'll be able to finance their retirement. About one-third of adults age 62 and over say they've delayed retirement because of the recession.

Some people surveyed were optimistic about the future. About six in 10 say they believe their personal finances will improve in the coming year, and 15% say the national economy is in good shape.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo by Matt Rourke / Associated Press