Financial Literacy - Careers
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Americans feel secure about jobs

Two in three Americans know someone who has lost their job in the past year, according to Bankrate's most recent survey. That's not entirely shocking, considering the unemployment rate is approaching double digits.

And that's just the tip of the unemployment iceberg. The true rate is higher if you count the number of people out of work who have given up looking for a job, which the unemployment rate doesn't take into account.

Twelve percent of those surveyed by Bankrate have lost their jobs in the past year.

Despite these dismal numbers, nearly eight out of 10 employed Americans feel pretty secure about their jobs, with 42 percent feeling very secure, and another 37 percent somewhat secure. However, baby boomers have a heightened sense of fear at the prospect of job loss.

Though these older workers may be the most skittish, their younger cohorts between the ages of 35 and 49 have been sacked the most, with 16 percent reporting that they've been on the receiving end of a pink slip in the past 12 months, versus 12 percent of workers between 50 and 64 years old.

Bankrate commissioned Princeton Survey Research Associates International to poll Americans about how they feel about their careers and job prospects as the job market continues to flounder. The results reveal that older workers are more shaken by the job market than their Gen X and Gen Y counterparts.

And a surprising discovery: Half of Americans would choose to work, even if they had the means to quit.

In the current economic climate, how secure do you feel in your job?
Age% Total secure% Total insecure
18-348713
35-498118
50-646533
65+6821

Baby boomers hit worst

Finding a job in the best of times can be difficult, depending on your field and geographic location. In a depressed job market, it can take even longer to find a job.

The amount of time it will take to find employment increases with income. Top earners could find themselves displaced for a long time if they suddenly find themselves out of a job.

"The old saying is that it takes roughly one month of job searching for every $10,000 in income," says Dan Kilgore, principal at Riviera Advisors, a human resources consulting firm.

In general, workers over 50 make more money than their younger counterparts, and they are feeling the most pain from the job crunch.

About a third of workers over 50 feel either somewhat insecure or very insecure about their position.

Not only are they more insecure than their younger counterparts, they're not particularly confident that they could land similar employment within six months were they to lose their jobs tomorrow.

If you lose your job tomorrow, how confident are you that you would find a similar position within six months?
Age% Total confident% Total not confident
18-347523
35-497028
50-645047
65+3648

Almost half -- 47 percent of workers over 50 -- say they are either not at all confident or not too confident about finding similar work in half a year. Conversely, about three-quarters of those under 49 say they're either very confident or somewhat confident about landing on their feet quickly if they lose their jobs.

Younger folks may be a little misguided about how long it could take to land a comparable position, says J.T. O'Donnell, a career strategist and workplace consultant.

"I can't tell you how wrong that is. To find a $40,000 job it will take an average of four months, and add a month for every $10,000 of income as you climb the ladder -- but it's more like a pyramid, not a ladder. As you climb there are fewer opportunities," she says.

The over-50 crowd, on the other hand, was not optimistic about their chances on the open market.

"Older people are much more pessimistic and that number is right on. And part of that has to do with boomers. They're more realistic about how tough things are going to get. This is new for Gen X and Gen Y. They have nothing to compare it to -- especially Gen Y. They have known nothing but limitless options," says Debra S. Magnuson, senior consultant, professional services with PDI Ninth House, a leadership development firm.

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