January 1998

The Sources of Worker Anxiety: Evidence from the Michigan Survey

Maria Ward Otoo


This paper uses individual responses from the Michigan SRC survey of consumer attitudes to examine worker anxiety. It identifies "anxious" households (those that express some concern about the job security) and analyzes some factors that might be driving this angst. It found that a little more than a quarter of households revealed concerns about job security. Also, the results suggest that less educated households (those lacking a high school diploma) were significantly more likely to be concerned about job loss as were black and Asian households.

Geographic factors were important in driving worker anxiety with largely households along the East Coast and West Coast significantly more likely to express concern over job security. The results also indicated that hearing news about layoffs or plant closings increased the likelihood that an employed household was anxious, and anxious households were more likely to hold unfavorable views on the overall economy, although the relationship was far from certain. This leaves room for the possibility that households could report favorable views about the economy in general yet harbor significant concerns about their own job security. The results also suggested that anxious, employed households might be more reluctant to take on more debt. However, job anxiety did not appear to have any impact on households' views on using savings to finance consumption. Finally, the results suggest that worker anxiety was higher in 1995 than in the late 1980s.

Full paper (490 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Job insecurity, Michigan survey

PDF: Full Paper

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