While losing your job is the worst-case scenario in this bad economy, it's likely you're going to suffer earnings power even if you remain employed.
Here are some ways the recession can hit your income even if you don't lose your job:
More work to do:
If your company has layoffs and you're one of the lucky ones still around, it doesn't mean you escaped without any financial consequences. All that work still needs to be done. Basically, you'll have more work to do for the same amount of pay.
Be given fewer hours:
Many companies are reducing employees' hours, sometimes resulting in smaller paychecks. This is especially true for those who counted on overtime work.
Loss of retirement benefits:
Many companies are reducing retirement benefits and the 401(k) match. It will be harder to build your retirement nest egg, meaning you'll have to save and use more of your own money to reach your retirement goals.
Loss of perks:
Before layoffs, you may see convenient perks disappear. Free coffee, snacks at meetings, subsidized dining and office parties are all likely to be scaled back.
Pay more for current benefits:
Even if you don't lose any benefits, you may have to pay more for them. Many companies are forcing employees to pay a larger portion of health-insurance premiums, for example.
Shorter work week:
While getting an extra day a week at home may be wonderful because you get to spend more time with family and friends, it's not great for your paycheck.
Extended non-paid vacations:
Another strategy companies are using to cut the number of days they need to pay employees is to give extended vacations around holidays.
Reduced salary for the same amount of work:
The annual raise or cost-of-living adjustment expected in years past has a good chance of evaporating. In addition, you and your coworkers may face the decision of taking a cut in pay to save jobs or let some workers go. Choosing a pay decrease doesn't guarantee that layoffs still won't happen. Also, it's unlikely you'll ever get your pay increase back.
Reduction in incentives such as bonuses:
Many people have counted on bonuses to make financial ends meet. No longer being able to count on them can require a major budget overhaul.
Reduction in training:
This can mean travel to seminars, conferences and other meetings where employees can network and bring back valuable information for the team. Some companies also offer to pay for or subsidize college tuition.
Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.