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Sarah Burgard (Cohort 1) HealthWise

Job Insecurity Affects Health, Michigan Study Find

Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

After Recession, Job Worries Take a Toll on Health

Workers who perceive their jobs aren't secure are more likely to rate themselves in poor health and have increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, reports the September Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Sarah A. Burgard, PhD, and colleagues of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, analyzed data on about 440 working-aged adults living in southeast Michigan in 2009-10. The analysis was part of a larger study to assess the impact of the recent economic recession and ongoing recovery on the lives of workers in the Detroit area, which was hit particularly hard by the "Great Recession."

Nearly 18 percent of workers perceived their job was insecure—they felt it was at least "fairly likely" that they would lose their job or be laid off within the next year. Workers with job insecurity rated their health lower than workers who perceived their jobs as more secure—they were nearly three times more likely to rate their health as fair to poor.

Workers with job insecurity were nearly four times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety attacks, and close to seven times more likely to have symptoms suggesting minor or major depression. These effects were significant after adjustment for other characteristics.

The study adds to previous research linking job insecurity to poorer health. This could have a major impact on population health in the wake of the recent economic recession—especially with the "jobless recovery" and continued high unemployment rates.

"The study provides some of the first available evidence on the extent and distribution of perceived job insecurity and its association with health in the wake of the Great Recession," Dr Burgard and coauthors write. They call for interventions targeting the large number of people who may be suffering the mental and physical health effects of job worries. Especially with the slow recovery, they add, "perceptions of job insecurity may persist for some time."