Survey: Job Market’s Been Bad for Everybody—But Worse for the Less Affluent

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Over the last three years, households with incomes of $75,000 and up have experienced a dreary, often harsh employment landscape. In more than one-quarter of these households, someone has lost a job. In nearly half of such affluent households, at least one member of the family has seen his salary, benefits, or bonuses cut. The majority of people in this income bracket also say they’re “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the likelihood of more cuts in the next 12 months. Most disturbing of all: Poorer households have had an even worse run in the jobs market over the past few years.

Among the topics covered in the new TIME and Money magazine Americans’ Financial Values Survey is the state of employment. The data collected reinforce something you probably already know in your gut: The jobs market has been pretty darn ugly in recent years.

Only about one-half of households have been saved from having to deal with the repercussions of cuts in salaries, benefits, or bonuses. This goes for affluent and non-affluent homes alike: 48% of the general population, and 49% of people with household incomes of $75K and up, lives in a home where someone has been subjected to such a cut sometime since 2008.

(MORE: Americans Overwhelmingly Pessimistic About the Economy)

It’s the less affluent folks, however, who have been more likely to have straight-up lost a job. In 26% of $75K+ households, one or more individual has gotten laid off over the last three years. There’s been at least one layoff in nearly one-third (32%) of households earning less than $75K, meanwhile.

Relatively speaking, Americans are less panic-stricken about their jobs today: 22% of the general population say they’re “very concerned” about the prospects of cuts to salaries, benefits, or bonuses, compared to 30% in 2009. Even so, workers are clearly still worried: An equal number (54%) of both the affluent and the general population describe themselves as “very” or “somewhat” concerned about such cuts.

In such a stressful, unstable climate, it’s understandable that relatively few workers are game for testing the job market: Nearly two-thirds of all survey respondents (64%) say that they’d accept a pay cut in order to keep their job.

(MORE: Survey: The Frugal ‘New Normal’ Has Become the Norm)

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.