If they were to lose their job today, more than half of workers ages 55 and older say they could go at least a year without experiencing financial hardship. But for those 34 and younger, just 18 percent believe they could last that long without suffering economically.
This disparity in the financial situations of older vs. younger workers was revealed after Gallup surveyed more than 500 working U.S. adults earlier this month. Gallup asked two basic questions: If you lost your job today, at what point would you begin to feel the pinch in your wallet? And how likely do you think it is that you will lose your job sometime soon?
On the second question, workers of all ages felt generally confident about keeping their current jobs. Just 16 percent of all those interviewed felt they were likely to lose their jobs, and this percentage varied little across age groups.
Overall, those polled exhibited the personal finance hangover from the last recession.
Only 14 percent of the entire pool felt they could last more than a year without work and still not feel the financial pinch, and just 17 percent thought they could make it a year with suffering financial hardship.
A quarter said they’d be hurting after four months, while 29 percent said that window would be about a month for them.
Fourteen percent checked the “up-to-one-week” box, suggesting that more than four in 10 U.S. workers would experience serious financial hardship within a month of losing their jobs.
While these numbers may suggest the workforce is general isn’t prepared for a downturn, the numbers aren’t that different from the responses Gallup got to the same poll in earlier surveys.
In fact, more workers think their financial resources would hold out for at least a year (31 percent) today than in polls conducted in 2001 (23 percent), 2003 (29 percent), 2010 (28 percent) and 2013 (28 percent).
The survey also quantified something most folks already know: that low-income workers feel losing their job is slightly more likely than higher-income workers, and these lower-income workers would suffer financial hardship earlier than those in higher-income brackets.
“With long-term unemployment a serious problem in recent years, many U.S. workers are not in a position financially to go a month, or even a week, without finding a new job if laid off. That underscores the economic hardship that unemployment of any length can bring on U.S. families, particularly for younger and lower-income workers. Relatively few workers expect to get laid off, which is probably an accurate reflection of their job security because even in times of high unemployment, at least 90 percent of Americans in the workforce are employed,” Gallup said.