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Dislocated Worker Survey

The St. Louis metropolitan region has a 2011 monthly average of 133,485 people looking for work with continuous unemployment claims averaging 22.5 weeks (St. Louis WIA figures only). This represents a 7 percent reduction from the 2010 monthly average of 143,729.3 To most efficiently serve the interests and needs of this dislocated population, a survey was designed to capture the worker profile, skill level, employment history, career goals and re-employment strategies of job seekers using workforce development services in the St. Louis area. This recession, more than any other in recent history, has impacted the entire labor force spectrum, from low to high skill workers. To better capture all types of job seekers, the dislocated worker survey was administered with the help of Missouri Career Centers, Southwestern Illinois WorkNet Centers, St. Louis Community College and the professional employment networks: Go! Network and BounceBack St. Louis. A total of 408 responses were collected in May and June of 2011.
Dislocated Worker Survey Respondents by Location
Dislocated Worker Survey Respondents by Location

Worker Profile

Respondents to the Dislocated Worker Survey included 206 participants of the voluntary and open professional employment networks. Forty percent of the professional network participants hold a postsecondary degree compared to only 20 percent of the 202 survey respondents who do not choose to participate in the networks. At present, customers of career centers, St. Louis Community College and professional networks are 53 percent women and 47 percent men. The highest percentage (42) of customers are mid-career professionals aged 45 – 54 years.
Dislocated Worker Survey Respondents by Gender and Age
Dislocated Worker Survey Respondents by Gender and Age The majority (79 percent) of respondents are the primary wage earners for their household. Of the 324 primary wage earners, 64 percent have at least one dependent. Over half (211) of all respondents report having no health insurance; and approximately one quarter are covered either by a COBRA plan or a spouse’s policy. The job seekers who participated in the Dislocated Worker Survey demonstrate a strong attachment to place, with 60 percent of them stating they are not willing to relocate. Of the 246 respondents not willing to relocate, 75 percent will not commute a distance greater than 30 miles one-way to work. These results reflect the trend of a mid-career professional, age 45-54, settled in residency and family but needing career assistance to be re-skilled and re-employed.

Education Attainment

The education attainment of survey respondents reflects the larger percentage of higher educated workers dislocated by this recession, with 59 percent (242) of respondents holding at least an Associate degree and 41 percent (166) having no or only some postsecondary education. Bachelor’s degree holders represent 29 percent (118) of respondents, and constitute the greatest number of participants, based on educational attainment.
Dislocated Worker Survey Respondents
Dislocated Worker Survey Respondents

Past Employment

The surveyed dislocated workers came from all industries and a diversity of occupations. The median pre-layoff annual salary of survey respondents was approximately $37,000. Sixty-three percent of professional network participants earned more than $40,000 a year at their last job, compared to 25 percent of non-participants. Dislocated workers had tenures, with their last employer of anywhere between a few months to over 25 years, with 74 percent having one to ten year tenures. Dislocated workers from the manufacturing industry had the highest survey participation rate. Of the 88 manufacturing respondents 49 percent had a greater than five–year tenure with their employer. Only Professional Technical Services and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation had higher percentages, (58 and 54 percent) of dislocated workers with greater than five–year tenures. In comparison, 63 survey participants come from Education, Health Care and Social Assistance; but only 30 percent of them had greater than five-year tenures.
Respondents by Industry
Respondents by Industry More than half of the dislocated workers surveyed have been out of work for more than a year. The current dislocated workers are less optimistic than their counterparts in 2009, with a higher percentage of respondents thinking they will be unemployed for more than three months.

Employment Separation

The survey asked, “What was the reason for separation from your last employer?” Position Abolished was the single most elected option with 133 responses. Shown in the chart, are the reasons for separation elected by the 408 respondents, and presented by industry. Business Closed includes those reporting the Failure of a Self-Operated Business. Insufficient Work includes those who separated from a Seasonal Position. At the time of their separation, nearly half of all respondents were offered no advanced notice of their separation, no severance package and no referrals to career services. All 408 are now accessing career services through professional networks, Career/Worknet Centers or St. Louis Community College. However, at the time of separation less than one quarter of respondents were offered career counseling or referrals to career services providers.
Reasons for Separation
Reasons for Separation Not shown are two separations from Utilities and one from Management of companies due to Position Abolished; two from Agriculture for Insufficient Work and 43 across industries for separation from a still operating facility for a reason not specified.

Re-Employment Services

The most sought after career service was job search assistance, which reflects the midcareer well–educated pool of respondents.
Respondents Interested in Re-Employment Services
Respondents Interested in Re-Employment Services Only about one quarter of all respondents report being Under–Qualified for a new job based on education. When asked about one’s interest in training or efforts one might be willing to do to increase chances for reemployment, 30 percent expressed interest in Adult Basic Education, Earning a GED or improving their Language Skills. One quarter of all respondents are interested in technical training, including almost two thirds expressing interest in advanced level computer training.

Challenges and Barriers

Much of the dislocated worker survey focused on the future; asking questions like the types of action steps one would consider taking and difficulties they expected to encounter. When asked about the types of challenges one faces when seeking a new job, a majority of respondents reported a lack of jobs, a lack of jobs offering their current wage and benefits, and a barrier of age. Almost equal numbers of respondents report being Over–Qualified by education (28 percent) as those reporting being Under–Qualified (24 percent). Ninety-five people report Lacking Necessary Technical or Computer Skills. Lastly, 36 respondents report having Physical, Mental, or Dependent Care challenges to getting a new job. When asked what types of barriers one faces in committing to long term training, over 90 percent of all respondents report needing to earn a wage, or not being able to afford a program as a barrier to pursuing long-term education training. Only 20 percent report Lack of Transportation to a Program or Lack of Programs in One’s Area as a barrier.
Respondents’ Barriers to Committing to Long-Term Training
Respondents’ Barriers to Committing to Long-Term Training

Service Needs

Survey participants were asked, “Since being out of work would you be willing to seek employment in your current field and/or seek employment in a new field?” Most respondents (76 percent) are seeking employment in their current occupational field. Of those 312 job seekers, 70 percent express concern about finding a position offering their current wage and benefits. Only about one third of the 312 looking for a job in their current field are willing to complete a degree or short term training to advance in their current occupation. There were 298 survey respondents who expressed interest in changing career occupations. While only half of them are interested in completing a degree to increases their career options, 73 percent are willing to pursue short-term training and skills development to increase their job options. This recession affected the full spectrum of workers regardless of industry, occupation or education background. These results reflect a larger number of job seekers already holding higher education degrees, but who need re-training to pursue available opportunities. As recovery continues, the dislocated workers will need a larger catalogue of services to meet their diverse interests and skills. These results will help education and training providers along with workforce planners design targeted services and trainings for those in need. Dislocated workers are not optimistic about job prospects; however, they are willing to change careers and enhance their skills, but cannot afford the cost of training. levels of education need to refocus on the wellrounded student with a strong foundation in the professional fundamentals. U.S. Businesses Dataset and Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC)