New Study Says Half of Employees Currently Experience Layoff Anxiety

New CareerArc Layoff Anxiety Study Conducted by The Harris Poll Shows Impact of The Great Recession and Fear of a Pending Recession

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.– August 14, 2019 – According to the 2019 Layoff Anxiety Study published today by CareerArc, an HR technology leader in social recruiting and on-demand outplacement, 48 percent of employed Americans experience layoff anxiety. Of those, 34 percent say this is fueled by fear of a pending recession, 32 percent cite rumors around the office as the cause and 30 percent say a recent round of workplace layoffs is to blame. 

The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of CareerArc, found that job loss is not uncommon – 40 percent of Americans report having been terminated or laid off at least once. The survey also found that the impact of the Great Recession on workers is still evident and manifesting in layoff anxiety.

Seventy-four percent of those who experienced a layoff, termination or joblessness during the Great Recession say they suffer from layoff anxiety, particularly tied to fear of a pending recession (36 percent). This is in spite of a 3.6 percent unemployment rate, which is at a record low since 1969. 

Layoff anxiety does not necessarily translate to the readiness of employees for a layoff. Nearly half of employed Americans (47 percent) say they do not feel prepared for a layoff. Specific factors influenced the likelihood that an employee would feel unprepared.

Employees more likely than their counterparts to feel not at all/not very prepared for a layoff include renters (63 percent vs. 42 percent of homeowners), those without a college degree (54 percent vs. 36 percent of those with a college degree or higher), employed Americans with a household income of less than $50K per year (63 percent vs. 41 percent with household incomes of $50k or more), parents with children under 18 in the household (53 percent compared to 43 percent of those without), and women (54 percent vs. 41 percent of men). 

Additional findings in the report break down layoff anxiety rates across employed demographics including age, gender and education level. Key findings include: 

  • 61 percent of young Americans ages 18-34 suffer from layoff anxiety as compared to 41 percent of adults ages 35 and above.
  • 54 percent of women surveyed don’t feel prepared for a layoff as compared to 41 percent of men.
  • 39 percent of employed women who suffer from layoff anxiety cite fear of pending recession as the number-one cause of their layoff anxiety versus 29 percent of men in the same group.
  • Men are more likely than women to have ever been laid off or terminated – 45 percent of men have lost their jobs as compared to 36 percent of women
  • 64 percent of Americans with college degrees or higher have never been laid off as compared to 48 percent of Americans with some college and 47 percent of those with a high school degree or less.
  • Younger, less-experienced workers may face more challenges finding or switching jobs during a recession. Gen Z and millennial employees — 23 percent of those aged 18-34 and 19 percent of those aged 35-44 — were about twice as likely to experience difficulty in finding/switching jobs during the Great Recession compared to those ages 45-54 (11 percent) and 55-64 (9 percent).


This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of CareerArc from June 25-27, 2019 among 2,024 adults ages 18 and older, of which 1,061 were employed. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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