A quarter of U.S. workers believe they will be laid off in the next year, the highest measure since a record began in 1975.
Gallup released the results of the poll, a survey of 540 U.S. adults conducted April 1-14, on Wednesday. The record results come one year after the same poll measured workers’ confidence in their jobs at an all-time high, with just 8% fearing they would lose their jobs in the next year.
“The one-quarter of U.S. workers employed full or part time who think they are likely to lose their jobs in the next 12 months include 9% who say it is ‘very likely’ and 16% ‘fairly likely.’ Meanwhile, 37% say this is ‘not too likely’ and 38% ‘not at all likely,’” Gallup reports.
“We’ve never seen this before,” Gallup senior editor Jeff Jones told Bloomberg. “We’ve said we wouldn’t believe these numbers unless we were living through it.”
The poll also measured how long Americans expected to be able to support themselves after losing their jobs, with the majority of Americans saying they would experience “severe hardship” within four months. Many said they would not last that long, with 13% reporting within a week and 28% within a month. 12% said they could last up to a year and another 12% said they could last more than one year.
The U.S. unemployment rate is rising at record rates because of the coronavirus and the subsequent shut down of much of the economy, artificially closing thousands of small businesses and severely restricting the operations of many others. Since mid-March, nearly 22 million workers have filed for unemployment insurance, according to Department of Labor data.
The massive figure is a rough estimate of how many Americans have either lost their jobs or been furloughed since state governments began using heavy-handed regulations to slow the spread of the virus within the U.S. The real number of people who have lost jobs is likely much higher, however, because the torrent of fresh unemployment filings have crashed state government websites and clogged phone lines, leaving many Americans unaccounted for.
The job crisis may have been exacerbated after the Paycheck Protection Program, a fund for small businesses to tap into to float them through the pandemic while they are not allowed to operate, ran out of its initial $350 billion investment last week.
Democrats stalled a Senate bill to replenish the fund until Tuesday, demanding that the new legislation earmark funding specifically for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and other specific groups. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday, a full week after the fund ran dry.
Also on Thursday, the Labor Department will release fresh data on unemployment claims. Experts predict that Thursday’s numbers will show another 4.5 million Americans have applied for unemployment insurance, bringing the total number of workers who have lost jobs since mid-March over 26 million, according to Yahoo Finance.
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