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Even People Who Still Have Jobs Are Feeling The Salary Pinch

Believe it or not, this doesn't make unemployed people like me feel any better. We'd much rather that whatever jobs were left were paying people enoug

Believe it or not, this doesn't make unemployed people like me feel any better. We'd much rather that whatever jobs were left were paying people enough to live on:

In cubicles, factories and stores these days, anxious workers are trying to ease each other's economic fears with something akin to, "Well, at least we still have a job."

Yet for many, that's becoming small comfort as more employers cut hours or hire only part-timers. People paid on commission, meanwhile, are suffering as sales dry up. And state workers around the country have been put on unpaid leaves.

These workers aren't counted in the unemployment rate, which hit 8.1 percent in February. They're not eligible for federal benefits that provide a safety net for the jobless. Yet their pain is real, and their reduced spending is a drag on the economy.

Call them the walking wounded of this deep recession: millions of workers whose incomes have fallen even as they manage to hold onto their jobs. Their shrunken pay has forced many of them to make hurtful sacrifices.

"I won't be able to buy to the groceries I need to buy to make sure my family can eat until the end of the month," said Rhonda Wagner, a 52-year-old California state employee who just absorbed a 9 percent pay cut because of a state-imposed unpaid leave.

Before her pay cut, Wagner said her paycheck from the Department of Motor Vehicles was barely enough for her to pay her bills. Now, she says she's facing foreclosure and struggling to pay for utilities.

"I will have to rob Peter to pay Paul," she said. "We're expected to work, even though we're not getting paid."

More than 4.5 million workers last year depended at least partly on variable pay, which includes tips and commissions, according to Labor Department figures. Meanwhile, the number of workers forced into part-time instead of full-time work soared 76 percent in the past year.

The average number of hours all employees work each week has also dropped. The commission-heavy sectors of retail and auto sales have been especially hammered.

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