As the economic distress lingers, Towers Perrin finds most employees are ready to sacrifice career advancement for the simple security of a regular paycheck.

Job security and long-term earning potential are the key concerns for respondents, Towers Perrin finds. Forty-five percent of those polled believe they face greater risk that their job will change or be eliminated. And 55% believe the risk that their future earnings will plateau or decline has increased as well.

"In an economic downturn, employees want to lock down the things they need to provide stability and security for themselves and their families. A steady paycheck and set of core benefits, including health care coverage, typically top that list," says Emmett Seaborn, a Towers Perrin principal and head of intellectual capital development.

Indeed, having adequate benefit protection for themselves and their families rose sharply in importance as well, moving into the No. 2 slot from No. 4 previously, with 56% putting this in the top five in December, compared with only 37% in August.

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