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Money and Main Street

Stuck in a crappy job - tough

With few new jobs openings, those who haven't been laid off are staying put.

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By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Laura Wheeler Todd is struggling in the current job market - even though she has a full-time job.
Millions of job openings!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Unhappy at work? You're not alone.

The recession has left a lot of people out of a job, but many of those still employed aren't very happy at the office. That's because layoff survivors are often stuck with increased workloads, fewer benefits and even less pay. But they're staying put -- at least for now.

Fifty-four percent of employed Americans plan to look for a new job once the economy rebounds, according to a survey from Adecco Group North America.

The sentiment is even stronger among younger workers. Of those ages 18-29, 71% say they are likely to look for new jobs once the economy turns around, the survey said.

"In times of uncertainly people tend to hunker down and protect their turf, as a result of that they are staying in their current positions," explained Gautam Godhwani, CEO of job search site Simply Hired.

Waiting on a rebound

Lois DiTommaso, 28, is frustrated with her current situation, even though she has remained fully employed as a trim assistant, responsible for details like buttons and zippers, at a well established fashion label over the last year and a half.

Layoffs at her office have left her with more responsibility, longer hours and no annual salary increase.

Despite growing dissatisfaction at work, "no one is going to quit," she said of herself and her coworkers. "There's nowhere for me to go, I need my job," she explained.

DiTommaso is eager to start a new job search, once other fashion companies start hiring again.

"I can't wait for the job market to improve," DiTommaso said in anticipation of finding another position in her industry.

She is also realistic about the competitive pool of applicants she will face, including those with greater skills and experience willing to take a paycut and demotion. "Some of the people that got laid off are higher up and I'm not as competitive," she admitted.

Laura Wheeler Todd, 35, has already started looking for a new job, with no success. She is an accountant at an adolescent rehabilitation center in Alabama, but layoffs at the facility have left her in charge of medical billing and insurance coding as well.

"I'm doing two people's jobs right now," she said, which means late nights and often taking work home. "If there was more stuff out there I would absolutely quit."

Now, Todd says she is considering jobs outside her field as well -- even waiting tables like she did in college -- if it means a fresh start.

"I thought I would never have to put ice in a cup again," she said.

Making lemonade

Disgruntled workers shouldn't necessarily switch jobs the first chance they get, said Joanie Ruge, senior vice president of Adecco Group North America.

Before jumping ship, Ruge recommends that workers approach their employers first. "If you're feeling a little bit burnt out you should talk to your employer about flexibility or working from home," she said.

As conditions improve, business owners may be willing to offer flexible work hours, telecommuting or other perks to hold on to their top talent.

In the meantime, "try to play chess when the world is handing you checkers," suggests Rusty Rueff, career and workplace expert for Glassdoor.com. Workers struggling with increased workloads can take this opportunity to partner with their coworkers, become a team leader, take on more responsibility at a higher level and expand their skill set.

"This is a tremendous time to experiment in the jobs they are in," Rueff said. "Make the most out of it."

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