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Job seekers: Forget insurance, we need a salary

A survey of job-seekers found that salary was more important than health benefits to most respondents, even older workers.
A survey of job-seekers found that salary was more important than health benefits to most respondents, even older workers.Lynne Sladky / AP

A majority of job seekers want a paycheck even if that means not getting health insurance at the workplace, according to a new survey from online career placement firm

"What we found was that the issues of health-care insurance and the recent government shutdown have become a distraction and have overshadowed the main focus for job seekers," said Joe Weinlick, vice president of marketing for "And that focus is to get a job and a salary."

The survey polled 5,000 people who are looking for employment on About a third have jobs but are actively looking for another, Weinlick said.

Sixty-one percent said their top priority when it comes to a job is salary, not health care. Thirty-one percent of those choosing salary over health care said they currently don't have health insurance, and 50 percent said they haven't had health-care insurance for more than a year.

Eighty-nine percent of all those polled said they'd go to great lengths to find a job, including working long hours and/or weekends.

'Still tough job market'

The poll was taken in the second week of October, one week after the state and federal marketplace exchanges opened as part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which requires individuals to purchase health insurance if they have none.

Workers who have insurance through their jobs could be forced into the health exchanges if their employers cancel their coverage.

"The timing of the survey shows some confusion over the ACA, in that people are unsure about their health-care situation, but the main theme is that people are looking for work and most importantly, a paycheck," Weinlick said.

Another significant finding in the survey came from baby boomers. Fifty-one percent of all respondents were between the ages of 49 and 67 — the group of workers most in need of health insurance.

Sixty-two percent of baby boomers who responded said a paycheck was a priority over health care. Thirty percent of those said they didn't have health insurance coverage now.

"This is surprising to find that some baby boomers don't consider health care a priority over salary," said Weinlick.

"It, too, just shows that in spite of some economic gains, it is still a tough job market," he added.

—By CNBC's Mark Koba. Follow him on Twitter @MarkKobaCNBC.

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