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Unemployment On The Rise, So Is Compromised Health

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 08, 2009 11:58 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, In The Workplace
Tags: Unemployment, Labor Department, Heart Disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Immunity, Compromised Health, Stress

Sociologist study finds that health is compromised when there is a job loss. The study is released on the day the labor statistics come out.  

Unemployment Hurts Health



IMAGE SOURCE:   Wikimedia Commons/ construction workers? Author: Paul Keheler


Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health are releasing their findings about unemployment’s impact on health just as the U.S. Labor Department is reporting that more than a half million people lost their jobs in April.

Losing a job can translate into compromised health, researchers found. 

Looking at health data from 8,125 individuals, both white and blue collar workers, who were surveyed a decade ago and then again in 2001 and 2003, unemployed workers suffered twice the rate of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes of the employed.

The rate of disease for the employed was approximately six percent, compared with 10 percent for those who lost their job. Included in the research were people who lost a job because the plant closed, rather than people who may have contributed to their own unemployment.

Surprisingly, even if the person had found new work, the health trend was noticed. 

Author Kate Strully says the reemployed were not more likely to describe their health in negative terms.

“This suggests that recent job "churning" within the United States (i.e., high rates of job loss but low unemployment) may impact certain health outcomes but not others. I find no evidence that the health consequences of job loss differ across white-and blue-collar occupations, although health-related selection out of jobs appears stronger within the blue-collar category”.

“I was looking at situations in which people lost their job for reasons that...shouldn’t have had anything to do with their health,” said Strully, an assistant professor of sociology at State University of New York in Albany, who did the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health, speaking to the New York Times. “What happens isn’t reflecting a prior condition.”  

In a report issued in December, Forbes reports that Chicago, and New York are the most stressful cities to live in with unemployment being one factor.

The article is reported in this month’s online edition of Demography.

The Labor Department reports that the number of unemployed persons increased by 563,000 to 13.7 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent #

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