POLL: Layoffs Take Heavy Emotional Toll

Three in 10 say they or someone in their house has lost a job in the past year.

ByABC News
December 15, 2008, 12:03 PM

Nov. 22, 2009— -- When the pink slip comes, trouble follows – financial, but emotional as well.

Three in 10 Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they or someone in their household has lost a job in the past year -- a new high. And the impacts can be devastating: Beyond financial hardship, large numbers report anger, stress and depression as a result.

Click here for PDF with charts and questionnaire.

Given the state of the economy – 10.2 percent unemployment, 17.5 percent including those who've given up looking – "surprise" is the least common reaction measured in this survey. Nonetheless, more than half of those who report a layoff in their household, 52 percent, were surprised by it.

Other emotional responses range higher: Nearly all – 90 percent – report personal stress as a result of the layoff. Sixty-two percent, anger. And 58 percent, depression. As percentages of the full population, those compute to 27 percent of all Americans with stress, 19 percent angry and 17 percent suffering depression in response to the loss of a job.

There's also, of course, financial hardship: Among those who've sustained a job loss in the household, 86 percent report money trouble, and 62 percent say it's been serious.

RE-HIRE – There are some positive (or at least less negative) outcomes: Among people who report a job loss in the last year, just fewer than four in 10 say the person who'd been axed has been able to find a new job. The flipside: Of them, 51 percent say it's for less pay.

Just 15 percent report finding a better-paying job; the remaining third lined up new work for about the same money.

When new jobs are unavailable, the pain is especially severe: Depression soars to 70 percent among people laid off and still out of work, compared with 40 percent of those who've lost one job but found another. Experiencing a "great deal" of financial hardship, naturally, also soars among those who haven't found another job. So does pessimism about the economy's future.