2008: Economic Climate — QuiP and QuiPS Results
Ariel Finno, Brittany Hart, Jessica Kohout & Marlene Wicherski
APA Center for Workforce Studies
Introduction and Method
Early in 2008, a stratified random sample of APA members and a stratified random sample of APA student affiliates were sent an email asking members of each to agree to participate in a series of brief opinion surveys on issues related to psychology, APA, and APAGS (to be known as QuiP for Quick Opinion Poll, and QuiPS for Quick Opinion Poll for Students). Eventually, one thousand six hundred and thirty-nine members agreed to be part of QuiP, and 1,652 students agreed to be part of QuiPS.
The demographic characteristics of the final member sample were compared to current APA member profiles to ensure it was representative of the larger membership. The demographic characteristics of the final student sample were compared against current APA student affiliate profiles to ensure it was representative of the larger student membership. The final samples for both QuiP and QuiPS were determined to be representative.
The purpose of this current APA Quick Poll was to investigate members’ and student affiliates’ perceptions of how the current economic climate is affecting their employment and education, as well as their future plans. Members were asked a number of questions pertaining to their employment status, their primary employment position, and changes to different aspects of their employment due to the current economic climate. Student affiliates were asked about their graduate status, and a number of questions about how the current economic climate has affected their finances related to school, and their education plans. Finally, both student affiliates and members reported whether they feel the economic situation will improve, remain the same, or worsen in the coming calendar year, and what role they feel APA can fill in helping its members and student affiliates cope with the current economic situation. Appendices A and B contain the cover letter and the survey that were sent to poll members.
In November, 2008, the panel members were sent an email describing the purpose of the poll and were provided with login instructions to the survey (see Appendix A). One week after the initial email, a reminder email was distributed to those who had not participated in the online survey. A final request for participation was sent the following week.
A total of 938 of the 1,639 members surveyed completed the survey, yielding a true overall response rate of 57.2%. Member respondent demographics were compared to the total sample and were determined to be representative. For the student affiliate sample, 696 of the 1,652 student affiliates surveyed responded, yielding a true overall response rate of 42%. Responding student affiliate demographics were compared against the sample and were determined to be representative.
Results for participants who are members can be generalized to the larger APA member population.
Overall, 68% percent of the members reported that they were employed full time (35 hours per week or and 12% were retired. Less than 2% of the member respondents were unemployed but actively seeking work.
The next item asked respondents to rate on a Likert scale how certain aspects of their primary employment had changed due to the current economic situation. The scale ranged from 1 (Large Decrease) to 5 (Large Increase). Respondents also had the option to choose Don’t Know, or Not Applicable.
Across all categories the majority of member respondents reported no change as a result of the current economic climate. Fifty-three percent of members said there was no change in the number of clients they were seeing as a result of the current economic status. The mean was 1.91 with an SD of .914. Twenty-four percent reported a small decrease, and 13% reported a small increase in number of clients.
Sixty-four percent of members reported no change in their employment security as a result of the current economic status. The mean was 1.75 with an SD of .843. Twenty-four percent reported a small decrease in their employment security as a result of the current economic status.
Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated no change in their career advancement, with a mean of 1.87 and an SD of .695, while thirteen percent reported a small decrease in their career advancement.
Seventy-three percent of members indicated no change in the amount of insurance reimbursement they were receiving (mean of 1.95, SD .924), while 15% indicated a small decrease.
Fifty-four percent of members (mean of 1.91 and SD of 1.306) indicated no change in the amount of research funding, while 23% reported a small decrease in funding, and 11% reported a large decrease in funding due to the current economic situation.
Sixty-three percent of members reported no change in their salary or income, while 20% reported a small decrease. The mean was 1.87 with an SD of .848.
Finally, the majority of respondents (51%) indicated no change in their ongoing or planned projects/operations due to current economic status, while 30% reported a small decrease. Seven percent indicated a large decrease, while 6% indicated a small increase in their ongoing or planned projects/operations. The mean was 1.78 with an SD of 1.003.
The patterns held for all items regardless of demographics, including primary employment position.
Members were asked if they felt the current economic situation would worsen, remain the same, or improve over the next calendar year. The majority of respondents (62%) indicated they felt the economy would worsen, 21% felt it would remain the same, and 17% felt it would improve, regardless of member demographics.
Despite the largest proportion of members reporting no change in each of the queried areas, approximately 17%-37% of members reported small to large decreases due to the current economic situation, in all areas of employment, including the amount of research funds available, number of clients for whom they are providing services, salary or income, and employment security. Additionally, ongoing or planned future projects, and members’ employment security were experiencing these decreases.
Results for student affiliates can be generalized to the larger APA graduate student affiliate population.
Out of the 1,652 student affiliates surveyed, a total of 696 student affiliates completed the survey, yielding an overall response rate of 42%. Ninety-eight percent of these respondents reported that they were currently graduate students. Undergraduate student respondents did not respond in sufficient numbers to allow us to report on the question of whether they were planning to attend graduate school.
Next, students were asked how the current economic situation had affected their personal finances related to school.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents indicated that the economic downturn reduced personal savings allocated to their education. Thirty-three percent indicated that they increased reliance on work, and 26% said that they increased the use of credit cards to fund their education. Thirty-three percent of respondents reported that the current economic situation had no effect on their personal finances related to school.
Fifty-six percent of respondents reported that the current economic situation has had no effect on their education plans. When asked how the current economic situation was affecting their education plans, 24% of respondents said that they will have to find employment or find an additional job. Twenty-one percent said that they will have to increase the number of hours that they work at their current place of employment.
Student affiliates were asked if they felt the current economic situation would worsen, remain the same, or improve over the next calendar year. The majority of respondents (50%) indicated they felt the economy would worsen, 28% felt it would remain the same, and 21% felt it would improve, regardless of student affiliate demographics.
Summary of Text Responses
Poll members were asked to respond to the question below.
“What role do you see for APA in helping its members and student affiliates cope with the current economic situation?”
The most often-mentioned response in each broad section below is in bold.
Suggestions that focused on reducing or freezing dues for a limited time/ for particular groups (unemployed/retirees/etc)
or keeping dues steady – no increases. Hardship dues. Similar suggestions re convention registrations (unemployed=free, early career professionals and new doctorates=lower fees/dues)/assessments/journal and subscription costs. Don’t cut services.
Emergency loans/subsidies for post-doctorates or interns/ faculty travel funds/long term low interest loans to students/APA credit card with low interest rate
Reduce unnecessary association costs: double mailings/mailing expenses/travel/expensive convention sites. However, do not lay off staff and thereby reduce ability to serve members.
Strong theme throughout that this was not a time to lessen advocacy efforts. Keep working on securing funding for students, researchers, legislation that supports health care benefits. Use research/science to support arguments for psychological services. Keep working to highlight underserved areas/populations.
Keep information flowing on job/employment opportunities. Provide through variety of media: Monitor/online/clearinghouse/encourage greater sharing of information among members of job openings.
Provide current information on the job market nationally: impact of economic situation on health services, students, faculty, and researchers. Honest forecasts about impacts of various bailouts/government actions. Broadly. Update frequently. Links to existing “discussions”/sources.
Provide information on how to find work/stay employed in what may be a different economic environment. Information on alternative or non-traditional careers, and how to prepare for these. Information to schools/educators on how to do this. Psychology is applicable to a wide variety of settings.
Establish/support discussion groups/online support groups/mentoring/webinars re financial/economic issues. Consultant services. Could the effective way that APA responds to national disasters be adapted to this situation?
Disseminate FREE information on importance of self care/coping/stress reduction and how to do this. Work to emphasize importance of a positive outlook, reduce fear/panic. Motivational and person-sided support. Strength of self-fulfilling prophecy should be recognized.
These can be approached using some of the techniques above: discussion groups/online offerings. Important to note that not all access information electronically.
Research how various health care proposals will impact psychologists and population. How other professions/disciplines fare re debt/reimbursement/income/research funding.
Involvement in local community where have expertise to help (be it health
Care/lectures/research). Educate individuals to different lifestyles. Work with organizations that provide services to poor and underserved.
Student affiliate responses were more singularly focused on financial concerns and considerations than was the case with members. These are listed roughly in order of descending frequency of mention.
Direct financial help: Reduce membership costs/journal costs/waive fees/education costs. Establish member-funded financial assistance fund.
Information about financial help: Provide information about financial support for students/grants /information on financial planning via Clearinghouse/networking opportunities.
Internships: Increase internship sites and funding. Cut costs of applying to sites.
Mentoring: Provide/establish forums for discussion of all these issues/increase opportunities for networking/ use members as coaches/mentors.
Advocacy: Continue to advocate for increased stipends/financial support/federal dollars
Employment: Identify and disseminate information about employment opportunities/jobs/economic outlook.
Self care: Provide social support/encouragement/psychological/social help