Two years from the start of the recession, U.S. workers continue to have little optimism about the direction of the economy, remain insecure about their jobs, and feel burdened and overworked, according to the most recent Spherion Staffing Services Snapshot survey.

The 2010 Labor Day Workforce Survey found that:

  • 60 percent of workers surveyed say they are not optimistic about the direction of the U.S. economy
  • 62 percent feel less secure about their job compared to a year ago
  • 37 percent feel more negative toward their job since the start of the recession

"The findings from this year's Labor Day Survey are a clear indication that the recession has left gaping wounds in the mindset of today's workers," said Loretta Penn, president of Spherion Staffing Services. "This study is a vivid reminder to U.S. employers that workers have paid a hefty price during the recession, and old wounds take a long time to heal. We may see an enduring toll on workers' optimism, outlook, and overall satisfaction for many years to come."

Every Day is a Labor Day, say Many Workers
According to the study, more than half (56 percent) of respondents did not take a vacation in the past year. Of the 44 percent who did take a vacation, one-third indicated they did not completely disconnect from their job responsibilities.

And the work continues for many employees, even when sick at home. The survey found that nearly 30 percent of participants worked from home the last time they called in sick.

Not surprisingly, the majority of survey participants today feel they have little support in balancing their work and personal life. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said their company does not help/support their effort to have a good work/life balance.

Is it Labor of Love for Workers?
The overwhelming majority of respondents (95 percent) would consider looking for a new job in the future or are actively looking, regardless of whether they enjoy their job or not. When asked which statements best described their feelings toward their current job, most surveyed participants (59 percent) agreed "I enjoy what I'm doing but would consider another job with more pay/benefits."

  • 27 percent percent indicated: "I dislike what I am doing and I am actively looking for a new job."
  • 9 percent agreed: "I dislike what I am doing but I will wait until another opportunity presents itself or for things to improve before looking for another job."

More Labor, Little Prosperity
Although 53 percent of survey participants have had to assume additional responsibilities or workload during the recession because co-workers were laid off, 93 percent of those who indicated that they had to assume additional responsibilities did not receive additional compensation.

The situation has taken a hefty toll on the American workforce. According to the study, 57 percent of respondents who have taken on additional responsibilities feel burdened and overworked. Another 53 percent say their job or workload affects their health in a negative manner. Perhaps due in part to the fact that nearly one-third of respondents have found or created new or additional ways to make money outside of their primary job.

"During this time when companies will need to rely on a productive, engaged, and focused workforce to lead recovery efforts, these findings underscore some sizeable improvements that need to be made," said Penn. "Business leaders must be laser focused on ways to ease unsustainable workloads, offer better work/life balance, and institute measures to address the 95 percent of workers who are just waiting to walk out the door."