Job Insecurity Leads to Health Problems -- COMPAMED Trade Fair
photo: construction workers
18 percent of those surveyed felt
insecure about their jobs; © sxc

The study used long-term data from two nationally representative sample surveys of the U.S. population to assess the impact of chronic job insecurity apart from actual job loss.

"Dramatic changes in the U.S. labor market have weakened bonds between employers and employees and fueled perceptions of job insecurity," said University of Michigan sociologist Sarah Burgard, a research assistant professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "This study provides the strongest evidence to date that persistent job insecurity has a negative impact on worker health. In fact, chronic job insecurity was a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or hypertension in one of the groups we studied."

Burgard and colleagues analyzed data on more than 1,700 adults collected over periods from three to 10 years. By interviewing the same people at different points in time, the researchers were able to disentangle the connection between poor health and job insecurity, and to control for the impact of actual job loss and other factors. One of the studies was conducted between 1986 and 1989, the other between 1995 and 2005.

"It may seem surprising that chronically high job-insecurity is more strongly linked with health declines than actual job loss or unemployment," said Burgard. "But there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Ongoing ambiguity about the future, inability to take action unless the feared event actually happens, and the lack of institutionalized supports associated with perceived insecurity are among them."

"Certainly job insecurity is nothing new, but the numbers experiencing persistent job insecurity could be considerably higher during this global recession, so these findings could apply much more broadly today than they did even a few years ago", added Burgard.; Source: University of Michigan