People laid off or furloughed because of the pandemic increasingly fall into two categories: those who have returned to their old jobs, and those who doubt they ever will.
Just over half — 53 percent — of those who lost jobs during the coronavirus crisis have returned to work, according to a survey conducted this month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey. That is up from 38 percent in August, and it is consistent with government data showing that the United States has regained a bit more than half the jobs lost last spring.
Among those still out of work, however, just 39 percent say they think they will go back to their old jobs.
The gap between the two groups is stark. People who have returned to work say their finances have held up relatively well, and they are about as optimistic as people who never lost their jobs. Nearly one in four say their finances have improved in the past year, a possible reflection of the stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits that helped workers early on in the pandemic.
Most who are still out of work, however, say their financial situation is worsening. A third say that their unemployment benefits have expired, or that they tried and failed to get benefits. As a group, the unemployed are pessimistic not just about their finances but about the economy as a whole.
Economists say those workers are right to worry. In a speech on Wednesday, Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve governor, warned that as more layoffs become permanent, job growth is likely to slow, as it has begun to do.
“The job-finding rate for those who are permanently laid off is less than half the rate of those on temporary layoff,” Ms. Brainard said, “so the speed of labor market improvement is likely to decelerate further if these trends continue.”