In This Tough Economy, Just How Valuable is Your Job?

The verdict’s in – the U.S. economy entered a recession in December 2007. In light of the current economic landscape and uncertainty about the future, many businesses report they are planning to freeze salaries in 2009, according to new research by the Corporate Executive Board. Who knows how long this uncertainty will continue.

As we enter the holiday season, our recent poll found that a majority of our readers are most thankful to have a job with a steady income. Now, we want to know just how valuable your job is to you. How much would you be willing to endure to keep your job in 2009?

Are you currently unemployed and wish you could have had the option to take a pay cut if it meant keeping your job? Share your stories and thoughts in our comments section.


  1. Helen

    I personally would not take a pay cut, I do however feel that larger companies should cut the bonuses and money upper management get, even when they leave a company. An upper level management bonus could pay for one or two years of a lower staff employee……

  2. gshinn

    as a nha in healthcare, the job is too demanding to take a pay cut. there is a shortage of really goods nhas so there is not a need to move backwards from a salary standpoint at this time. the difficulty is desired location if one is between positions.

  3. Tiffany | Express Job Blogger

    @ Helen – There’s been a lot of talk about this especially in light of recent bailout news. It will be interesting to see how things progress.
    @ Gshinn – There are many industries in which talent is still in short supply, and you shouldn’t have to take a paycut if you’re in one of them! Good for you for knowing what you are worth. But as you point out, there are complications sometimes when it comes to getting paid what you’re worth.
    @ Jthompson – We are not conducting this poll in any way to suggest how employers should cope with the current economy. This is simply a pulse to see how workers are feeling about their jobs.
    The premise is, if it came down to the point where you faced either a layoff or a pay cut, are you at the point where you’d take a pay cut, or would you rather leave and find another job?

  4. Scott

    The management team here is already on its second round of self-imposed paycuts while maintaining current pay levels for non-management staff. Sure wish union employees would figure it out and take some self imnposed pay cuts.

  5. Glenda Corona

    I wish My Boss would of asked if I would of taken a cut in pay. I have been out of work for 4 mo. now and it is so had to get a job. My Husband is going to be taking a cut it pay but he will still have a job.

  6. Dawn

    I was laid off 5 weeks ago. Had I been given the option of a shorter work week or a pay cut, I would have taken it. It beats looking for work all over again, especially with many companies not hiring at all.

  7. Maria

    If I had to choose between no job and lower pay I would take lower pay, but …
    I feel that the US economy is owed some amends and payback out of the amazing bonuses and pay – in the many millions of dollars – that was taken by those top managers in banks and Real Estate investment houses that are now being bailed out. They brought about such broad devastation through poor financial management and/or financial crimes. They should not profit.

  8. Camile

    It doesn’t really matter. The last 10 years I’ve been layed-off 4 times! I am sick and tired of always having to look for employment over and over and over again. Now, I face lay-off again!! I am getting to old and people do not want to hire me. I have gone downhill in pay each time I HAVE to look for work.
    Those who are willing to take a paycut, only cut off their nose to spite their face. We need to make companies more socially responsible. QUIT OUTSOURCING JOBS TO OTHER COUNTRIES! Along with forced cut in salary, I have been forced to move into less desireable places to live! WHEN IS IT GOING TO STOP? When I have to live in a tent????

  9. Tiffany Monhollon

    @ Scott – It’s interesting to see that some companies are already making these moves.
    @ Glenda – Thank you for sharing your story. It definitely gives us perspecitve to see how a job loss can impact someone especially in an economy like this.
    @ Dawn – Great point bringing up a reduction in hours. Some companies are keeping people on at the same rate but cutting hours instead.
    @ Maria – It’s very frustrating to see all the factors involved in the situation we’re in, and hopefully, some positive change will come out in the end.
    @ Camile – Thanks for sharing your perspective. Some people may not realize that a layoff can mean a paycut too.

  10. Sheila

    Well, I work for a large company and they have started cutting our hours–in November it was 1 day/wk, in Dec. and Jan. it will be 2 hrs/wk. I have opted to work a part-time job also to supplement the f/t job cut. I am sole source income for my household, so I am doing what I need to do to not suffer the lose in pay from f/t position. In summary: my vote: I would be to take the lesser hours to keep my job.

  11. Carol Mullin

    Amen to the comments about punishing the people who actually do the work while the well-paid bosses keep their big salaries. I was laid off October 1st and would have been willing to take a pay cut IF I knew everyone else was taking a cut as well, but that doesn’t seem to be how the system works. The higher-paid execs at my old company are still getting their full paychecks. Some of them really do earn their keep, so to speak, but others . . .
    Like Camile, I have also been laid off or had companies fail 3 times in the last 4 years and now companies who look at my resume say they are concerned about “job hopping”, as though I had a choice. Like others who posted, my income is critical to my family’s survival and the opportunities for work seem to be drying up at the same time. I guess if we can make it through the summer (a good trick, in many cases) things will supposedly start looking up. Let’s hope!

  12. Andrew DeMay

    I wouldn’t take a pay cut, but I would take less hours. I believe that once your pay is cut, getting back to where you were would be hard. I would rather take less hours and know that when the economy gets better I will still be at the same pay as I was when the hours are restored.

  13. Mary Cohen

    I’ve been unemployed since 2005 working Temp jobs since. My husband has just been informed he would be getting atleast one pay cut in 2009. I would give anything to have a job and deal with a pay cut at this point.

  14. Blake

    I personally would not take a pay cut….In light of the economy being so bad, I can barely survive on what I do make, so I know that I would barely scrape by if I took a pay cut. Upper management do get paid more in larger companies, I work for one. And one of their salaries makes up 6 of mine. I think that those specific individuals would be able to take a pay cut and still live comfortably, even more comfortably than that of a lower paid staff member of the same company.

  15. Matt

    Taking a pay cut would be fine if prices for necessary consumer goods (food, hygene, etc.) fell in line with pay standards.
    I think our biggest problem as a society is we’ve become a nation of “stuff.” We all think we need very gadget, phone, video game, snowmobile, 4-wheeler, dvd player…that we can get our hands on cheap. Everybody talks about “buying American” but all this stuff we think we’ve got to have is made in some 3rd world country. It goes way beyond automotive.
    So in order to take less pay, I believe prices for certain things would have to come down…but we as a people also need to control our own impulse buying.

  16. Debra

    A paycut is better than $0. I left my job to try to find a better paying one. Now I’m temping and WISH I had a permanent job with the steady income. Now that I’m 50 and it looks like I’m job hopping, eyebrows are raised and I’m passed over for the younger model w/ NO EXPERIENCE. Go figure. Just don’t make yourself sorry like I did!!!

  17. MBA 101

    What is the question?
    – Pay cut with fewer responsibilities or fewer hours?
    – Pay cut in lieu of a greater match to 401k/retirement?
    – An equal % pay cut for EVERYONE, including top executives and union members?
    – Is there a commitment that the pay cut is in exchange for a defined term of continued employment?
    Is management attempting to take the easy path?
    I have seen pay cuts that keep people coming to work, but then layoffs a few months later, which is deceptive. Management that behaves deceptively deserves to deal with forceful labor unions and the likes of Jimmy Hoffa in order to keep them from their evil behavior.
    Management is not an easy job, it requires discipline when hiring to ensure that there is adequate funding; long term funding and short term funding are different and employment contracts should be made with respect to the business reality.
    Pay cuts are not a long term solution and any employee asked to do so should brush off their resume and start investigating new employers in search of a team that values employee contribution and will take the appropriate measures to improve long-term profitability.
    Employees are not slaves, and should be treated with respect or they will leave. I am VERY pro-business, don’t get me wrong; just give us the straight information, sharing the profits of success and we will all do what it takes to get through tough times.

  18. dc

    I worked at Hewlett-Packard in the mid 80’s when the company temporarily cut everyone’s pay by 10%. No one whined or complained — it was a statement about the culture and the solidarity of each employee sharing the burden of bad times for the industry with the other. For me it was tough since the cost of living in the Bay Area combined with school loans made it hard to support myself and my child, but I was able to locate a 2nd job that allowed me to do sales for a company similar to Costco from my home in the evening. In the end I made more money per hour doing the evening sales work than I did at HP and gained some valuable skills in listening to people and helping provide a product that fit their needs. Eventually, pay was returned to normal at HP and pay increases returned. Although my job was never at risk, I sure would have hated to be the slefish one saying I want my full pay when it would have meant laying off someone.

  19. John Smith

    I would not take a pay cut, pay cut is worse then were you started its a chain for the person behind you if the company values its worker it will bring everyone together on ideas to save itself, but pay cuts is a easy way out for businesses, like keeping profits Express Employment Professionals could easily find people during these times to do just that. It would be nice if EEP would keep a firm wage on the already low wages they offer or possibly give back a little of there commissions to its working force during these very hard times.

  20. Sam

    I think the idea of taking a paycut for the purpose of saving a job is prudent thinking but it must be a universal pay cut for all employees. It cannot be a pay cut for the production, or skilled trades, it must include all of management and the executive group as well. Congress and the Senate continue to call for pay in alignment with the Japanese firms well lets do it all the way and cut all upper management to the same level as their Japanese counterparts. If we must suffer then let’s do it together as a group, everyone must be willing to give. Pay cuts cannot be one sided and this is the rhetoric I continue to hear from companies.

  21. Tiffany Monhollon

    @ John – Actually, Express works to place people in jobs at other companies, so the pay range our associates make is determined by the client company who hires them, not by Express.
    That said, something to keep in mind is that in an economy like these where unemployment is rising, the law of supply and demand comes into play when it comes to wages.
    @ Sam – I think your point is valid. It can be frustrating to hear about execs still getting bonuses while their workforce is getting laid off.

  22. Dwight O. Carpenter

    Taking a pay cut alone isn’t always enough. I was recently laid off from a job in the manufacturing industry. An 8 hour day would be over quickly as long as there’s productive work to justify one’s valuable existence. When there’s no new work orders coming in the door and no opportunities to accept other positions, one has to find his/her own way to be productive, then that valuable asset becomes an expensive liability to keep employed and ultimately will be cut from the team. That situation really depends on the type of industry a person works in.

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