U.S. Workers Still Haven’t Shaken the Job Worries of 2009

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Worry about being laid off has increased most for the low-income

by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — Nearly five years since the start of the global financial crisis that spurred up to 10% unemployment in 2009 and an associated spike in job worries among U.S. workers, employed Americans continue to express elevated concerns about their job security. Workers’ worries about having their benefits and wages reduced, their hours cut back, and being laid off surged between 2008 and 2009, and time has not alleviated these concerns.

Workers Worried About Job Events, 2003-2013

The trends, from Gallup’s annual August Work and Education polls, consistently show that U.S. workers exhibit the most widespread concern about having their benefits reduced, and that remains the case today, with 43% saying so. The percentage of workers worried about a reduction in benefits initially rose nearly 20 points in August 2009, to 46% from 27% the year prior. Since then, about four in 10 have said they worry about this, still much higher than in any year from 2003 through 2008.

Worries about being laid off, having one’s wages reduced, or having one’s hours cut back all roughly doubled between 2008 and 2009, and remain at the higher levels today — between 25% and 31%.

Gallup also asks workers whether they worry that their company will move jobs overseas. Far fewer are anxious about this than about any of the direct threats to their job, pay, or benefits. And the 11% saying they worry about outsourcing today is only slightly higher than the 8% recorded in 2008 and little different from the 10% found in 2009.

Trend: U.S. Workers Worried About Outsourcing Where They Work

Fear of Layoffs Up Most Among Low-Income Workers

Workers’ concern about the most serious of the possible employment threats measured — being laid off — is up 14 percentage points today among all workers compared with August 2008. The 2008 poll — conducted one month before the fall of Lehman Brothers that precipitated cascading problems on Wall Street over subsequent weeks and months — provides a clear pre-collapse measure of worker attitudes.

Low-income Americans’ concerns about this are up the most. Forty-four percent now say they are worried about being laid off, compared with 19% in 2008 — a 25-point increase.

Concern is also up more than the average among nonwhites (a 20-point rise), union members (19 points), and government workers (19 points). Those showing below-average increased fear include American workers earning $75,000 or more annually (seven points), 18- to 34-year-old adults (seven points), and postgraduates (nine points).

Percentage of U.S. Workers Worried About Being Laid Off

Bottom Line

A great deal has transpired economically, as well as politically, in the five years since the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded. Among the more positive changes are the decrease in unemployment after it reached frightening levels in 2009 and 2010, and the surge in the stock market. Along the way, Americans’ confidence in the economy plummeted, but later rebounded to nearly positive territory, and remains less negative today.

Nevertheless, heightened fear among U.S. workers about their employment security, pay, and benefits stubbornly persists. This is particularly true among workers on the lowest economic rung, but is also evident to some degree among all workers.

How this is affecting the economy isn’t clear, but it could be somewhat distorting the labor market if workers are more reluctant than in the past to leave or change jobs. Potentially more importantly, it could be a factor keeping a damper on consumer spending, if workers feel less confident about their primary source of income. If so, this could be an important barometer of a cycle in which worker uncertainty leads to sluggish consumer spending, which in turn leads to tepid job growth.

Angola Central Bank News

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Angola holds rate steady at 10%, inflation drops further – Central Bank News.

Angola’s central bank held its main policy rate steady at 10.0 percent as inflation continued to drop and the exchange rate remained stable.
    The National Bank of Angola (BNA), which cut its rate by 25 basis points in January, said the monthly inflation rate in April was 0.6 percent, down from 0.66 percent in March, for an annual rate of 9.0 percent, down from 9.1 percent.
    The BNA has for many years strived for an inflation rate below 10 percent and since August 2012 inflation has remained below that level.
    The central bank also said credit to the economy rose by 0.18 percent in April and the average interest rate on credit of 181 days in local currency rose to 12.53 percent for retailers and declined to 13.7 percent for the corporate sector.
    The average exchange rate for the kwanza against the U.S. dollar was 96.045 at the end of April compared with 95.98 at the end of March. During April the central bank sold US $1,980 million to the market for a total of $6,232 million in the first four months.
    In 2012 Angola’s economy grew by 7.4 percent and the International Monetary Fund projects growth of 6.2 percent this year.

National Bank of Angola website : 



Brazil Central Banker’s raise rate by 50 bps to bring down inflation

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Brazil raises rate 50 bps to bring down inflation – Central Bank News.

Brazil’s central bank raised its benchmark Selic rate by 50 basis points to 8.0 percent to help bring down inflation and “ensure that this trend will continue next year.”
    In a brief statement, the Central Bank of Brazil said its policy committee, known as Copom, had agreed on the rate rise unanimously and it did not issue a bias about the future trend of policy.
    It is the second consecutive rate rise by Brazil’s central bank following a 25 basis point rise in April, bringing this year’s total rate increase to 75 basis points. In 2012 the central bank cut rates by 375 basis points in response to declining economic growth before freezing rates from November through March.
    Today’s rate rise was largely expected and follows recent warnings by the central bank’s governor that he would do “what is needed, in a timely manner, to ensure inflation declines.”
    Brazil’s inflation rate eased to 6.46 percent in the rolling one-month period through May 15 from 6.49 percent in April, close to the upper limit of the central bank’s target range of 4.5 percent, plus/minus two percentage points. It was first decline since inflation started to accelerate in July 2012.

   The central bank has forecast inflation of 5.7 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2014.
    Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product expanded by 0.6 percent in the first quarter, the same quarterly rate as in the fourth quarter, for annual growth of 1.9 percent, up from 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter, continuing a rebound since hitting a recent low of 0.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012.
    Nevertheless, growth in the first quarter was below expectations as industrial output dropped, driven by a 6.6 percent drop in mining, along with lower construction activity.
    Earlier today, the central bank lowered its 2013 growth forecast to 2.93 percent from 2.98 percent but maintained the 2014 forecast at 3.5 percent. In 2012 the economy expanded by only 0.9 percent.