SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12 More than half of American workers are worried about finding a new job if they become unemployed, followed closely by concerns over their ability to pay for healthcare insurance, according to the latest "America At Work" national poll conducted by the Employment Law Alliance, the world's largest network of employment attorneys. The ELA poll also shows Barack Obama as the preferred candidate for tackling U.S. workplace issues.
In the in-depth survey of 1,159 workers, conducted last week after the Democratic and Republican tickets were announced, and just before the U.S. Labor Department reported national unemployment at a five-year high of 6.1%, workers were asked their views regarding a wide range of workplace-related issues, national economic issues, and their preferences between the presidential candidates regarding those challenges.
Stephen J. Hirschfeld, Esq., CEO of ELA, said the poll could not be more timely. "Our poll results clearly show that after fear of finding another job if displaced, related pocketbook issues -- led by the affordability of healthcare insurance -- have American workers on edge. These highly personal issues -- much more than the prospect of tackling immigration and making it easier for unions to organize -- are trending as the paramount hot-button election issues. Perhaps the real battleground in this election is every American workplace."
Workers, a mix of full (83%) and part-time (17%) employees all over age 18, ranked their top issues among a group of eight workplace challenges presented in the poll, conducted for ELA by the market research firm Reed Group, of Philadelphia. The margin of error based on the sample size is +/- 2.9% at a 95% confidence level. The poll results reveal:
-- 51% are worried about finding a new job if they lose their current one;
-- 45% are troubled by the increasing cost to workers of employer-sponsored healthcare plans;
-- 37% fear losing a job due to poor economic conditions; and
-- 28% are concerned about fewer job opportunities due to outsourcing.
Besides ranking workplace-related issues, the respondents evaluated presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama regarding their ability to promote policies to address these workplace issues. In the four areas (noted above) causing workers the greatest concern, Sen. Obama was seen as more likely to satisfactorily address those challenges by margins of:
-- 51% to McCain's 20% regarding tackling the lack of affordable healthcare
-- 32% to McCain's 21% regarding the ability to find a new job
-- 40% to McCain's 25% in terms of controlling increasing healthcare insurance costs
-- 40% to McCain's 25% with respect to dealing with the possibility of job loss due to national economic woes.
McCain fares significantly more favorably in the poll (60% vs. 13%) when workers were asked which candidate will more likely be able to control illegal immigration. Obama leads by wide margins when it comes to making it harder for US companies to outsource jobs overseas (51% vs. 15%) and dealing with the lack of renewable energy sources (44% vs. 30%)
Dr. Ted Reed, ELA's Survey Director, noted that ELA conducted a similar survey prior to the Pennsylvania primary in April. "Comparing the two polls, we see that workers continue to rate job security and healthcare cost issues as their top workplace priorities for the upcoming election." He noted that unlike the April poll, this latest ELA poll represents the first time workers were asked to express their candidate preference for tackling troublesome workplace issues.
The Employment Law Alliance is the world's largest integrated, global practice network comprised of independent law firms recognized for their practice in emplo