Rutgers’ Heldrich Center for Workforce Development wins national policy impact award

May 28, 2013

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has presented its 2013 National Policy Impact Award to the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, for its groundbreaking Work Trends survey series exploring the devastating consequences of the Great Recession and the sobering realities of unemployment in the United States.

In a statement, AAPOR said that the Work Trends series has “given state and national policymakers, journalists and the general public a better understanding of the financial and psychological impact of long term unemployment in the U.S.”

The Work Trends series was founded in 1998 and is currently directed by Carl Van Horn and Cliff Zukin of the Heldrich Center at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, with the assistance of GfK. The series has addressed numerous topics, including the struggles of the long-term unemployed and recent high school and college graduates during and after the Great Recession.

Work Trends findings have been featured in hundreds of national and international publications, TV and radio newscasts, and the World Wide Web, with coverage from The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, NPR, the Huffington Post, CNN, and many others. Findings from the series are featured in Van Horn’s new book, Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream, published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2013.

“Over the past 15 years, the Work Trends project has conducted nearly 25,000 interviews with American workers about their jobs, the workplace, and the government’s role in the labor market,” said Dr. Carl Van Horn, Director of the Heldrich Center and Professor at the Bloustein School. “Findings from the series have influenced policy discussions at the highest levels — from the White House to the U.S. Congress and from leading businesses to educational organizations. The faculty and staff of the Heldrich Center are grateful to the American Association for Public Opinion Research for recognizing the value of our contribution to providing the public, policymakers, and employers with deeper insights into how workers are experiencing the new realities of the workplace and the economy.”

“This was a very rewarding but painful research project on the effects of long-term unemployment,” said Dr. Cliff Zukin, Senior Research Fellow at the Heldrich Center and Professor at the Bloustein School. ”We followed a national sample of 1,200 unemployed people for three years, surveying the majority of them four times. We witnessed a continuous erosion of their economic status and savings, and great social and psychological trauma as the Great Recession took its toll on millions. Very few got back to where they started before they lost their jobs.”

“We are honored to be working with the Heldrich Center on a project of such importance to policymakers and the public, and to have that work recognized by AAPOR,” said Mike Dennis, Managing Director of GfK’s Government and Academic Research team. “The Work Trends series has provided an ideal application of our ability to survey a fully representative sample of the population online, delivering a clear picture of how disenfranchised and struggling Americans have been faring.”

The entire series of Work Trends reports is available for download at 

The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development is based at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers University. It is one of the nation’s leading university-based research and policy centers dedicated to raising the effectiveness of the American workplace through improved workforce education, placement, and training. The Center identifies innovative workforce practices and practical policy changes that can help Americans receive the education and training they need to be productive and prosperous in a global knowledge economy. Learn more at For more information please contact Robb C. Sewell, Senior Writer/Editor, or (732) 932-4100, ext. 6312


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