Labor Day: Fear and Laboring in California

Sept. 7, 2009
A new statewide Labor Day survey in Californai says 51 percent of workers are working harder, while 53 percent said they have less job security since the recessional began.

Labor Day will be a much needed day of rest this year for Californians, as approximately half of the state’s employed workers are working harder, toiling longer hours and experiencing less job security than they did 2 years ago, according to data released in the California Labor Day Survey conducted by Harris/Decima on behalf of Everest College.

With the state’s unemployment rate leaping to a record high of 11.9 percent in July, its highest level in more than half a century, many Californians are seeking solutions to cope with a bleak employment picture, according to the survey.

The economic slump and challenging job environment in California have caused 43 percent of those who are employed and 50 percent of those who are unemployed to consider returning to school, the survey found.

“California's budgetary woes are compounded by the country's recession, creating a perfect storm for workers throughout the state,” said John Andrews, regional vice president of operations at Everest College. “Californians are not sitting idle in the face of job uncertainty – many are seeking skills training or other educational programs to secure employment.”

Almost half (45 percent) of Californians are working longer hours to keep up with California’s rising cost of living. At the same time, the study found that 57 percent of Southern Californians indicated they are working harder, versus 46 percent of Northern Californians surveyed.

Meanwhile, almost a third (29 percent) of the state’s residents said they will be working during Labor Day weekend, with 15 percent planning to work 8 hours or more. Californians with an annual household income of less than $40,000 are feeling the most heat, with this income bracket representing the greatest percentage of workers (43 percent) who plan to log at least 8 hours or more during the holiday weekend.

Even though a majority of workers (64 percent) are generally satisfied with their jobs, the survey found that there are pockets of discontent and dread within various aspects of work life.

More than half of all workers (53 percent) agree that their level of on-the-job stress has increased in the last two years. The same percentage of Californians said their job security has declined, specifically those aged 35-49 (59 percent) have less job security than those aged 50 and over (42 percent). The survey also found:

  • Including commute time, 41 percent of Californians work more than 10 hours per day
  • 19 percent of those with less than a high school education work more than 11 hours per day
  • The state’s financial crisis was voted by Californians as the most pressing economic problem (43 percent), followed by jobs (27 percent) and education funding (15 percent)
  • 35 percent said they have less time for family and friends since the economic downturn due to longer working hours
  • Three-quarters of Californians (75 percent) agreed that employers need to make work/life balance more of a priority.

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