A majority of people who were able to find work after being laid off during the recession say they are overqualified for their current position, according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center.
Nearly one-third of the nation's 139 million employed workers has suffered a job loss since December 2007, according to the survey. Of the reemployed workers, 54% say they are overqualified for their current post, versus 36% who weren't unemployed during the recession.
"Jobs that you might pass earlier you begin taking just to be able to work," said Rich Morin, a senior editor with the center and author of the study. Of the reemployed, 78% are satisfied with their current job versus 89% who did not lose a position.
"They're making do," Morin said. "They're taking the best available job."
Only 39% of reemployed workers say they get a sense of identity from their job, versus 53% of people who never lost one.
They're also worse off financially. A majority of the reemployed report that their family is struggling more than before the recession. More than one-third say they have had to make major changes in their lives because of the economy.
Only 38% of all reemployed workers say they are being paid more now than at their former job.
Of the reemployed, 60% seriously reconsidered switching fields. Moving to an area with more employment was a consideration for 39%, and just as many went back to school or enrolled in job retraining.
"People didn't just sit at home and watch reruns," Morin said. "They went out and tried to change themselves to make them more marketable in a tough jobs market."
But Ed Lawler, a business professor at USC,
cautioned that this recession hits uncharted territory.
"We've never had a situation that's comparable to this," he said.
Lawler said many are predicting that there will be a mass exodus of people leaving their employers for better jobs after the recession is over, but he's not so sure.
"There's a tendency to say OK, well, maybe it really isn't all that bad," he said. "There's a lot of costs involved in changing jobs."