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U.S. unemployed relying on benefits, savings, spouses

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly a quarter of U.S. laid-off workers are relying mostly on unemployment benefits or financial aid, and almost as many are cutting back spending to get by, according to research released Wednesday.

General Motors Flint auto worker Donald Kemp joins other demonstrators outside the Renaissance Center and General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan June 16, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Asked to list their primary means of making ends meet, a sixth said they are using savings and a fifth said they are relying on a spouse or partner to support the household, according to a survey of unemployed workers by CareerBuilder.com, an online jobs site.

The most common answer was unemployment benefits, at 23 percent, and cutting back spending to just necessities, at 20 percent, it said.

Six percent said they sold some belongings, 5 percent are taking odd jobs, 4 percent are living on credit and 3 percent moved home or added a roommate.

Roughly 14.5 million people were unemployed in the United States as of May, according to government statistics. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, that figure has risen by 7 million people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. unemployment rate climbed in May to a 26-year high of 9.4 percent.

Asked how they are using their time, 22 percent said they are spending time with family and friends, 15 percent are fixing up their homes and 14 percent are exercising more, the survey said.

Laid-off workers also listed relaxing, volunteering, returning to school and becoming more involved with their church community, it said.

The online survey was conducted among more than 1,800 laid-off U.S. workers from June 10 to June 15. The results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

CareerBuilder is owned by Gannett Co Inc, Tribune Company, The McClatchy Co, and Microsoft Corp.

Editing by Michelle Nichols

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