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Posted on Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 7:30 a.m.

University of Michigan study: Job insecurity is worse for your health than being unemployed

By Juliana Keeping

Having little peace of mind that your job is safe is worse for your health than losing a job or being unemployed, according to a recent study.

According to University of Michigan sociologist Sarah Burgard, changes in the U.S. labor market have weakened employer-employee bonds and fueled a sense of job insecurity.

This brand of vulnerability can impact the health of workers more negatively than smoking or hypertension in some cases, said Burgard, a research assistant professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

The study by Burgard, U-M colleague James House and Jennie Brand is published in the current issue Social Science and Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from two nationally representative sample surveys on almost 2,000 adults. One survey was conducted between 1986 and 1989, the other between 1995 and 2005. Subjects were interviewed at different points of time to explore connections between job insecurity and health, with information collected over periods from three to 10 years.

Burgard stated that ambiguity about the future, inability to take action unless the feared event actually happens, and lack of support in institutions regarding worker insecurity are three factors leading to health declines associated with high job insecurity.

The findings probably apply more broadly in this global economic recession, Burgard stated. Juliana Keeping covers the University of Michigan for Reach her at or 734-623-2528.



Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 7:20 p.m.

Maybe when your unemployed you have hope for the future...but when you have a job that is threatened by the economy you just sit around thinking about when will be your last day...there is no hope. Hope is a good thing.


Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 1:52 p.m.

Actually, I bet we can add that to the list of explanations for our obesity epidemic. That's a pretty interesting finding. I suppose it should be obvious; job insecurity is like having a sword of Damocles over your head every day (hence "waiting for the axe to fall"). But our economy has been putting progressively more people into that category every year since the 70s. We know that stress contributes to a wide range of health problems.

John Agno

Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 9:16 a.m.

Automakers, brokerages, retailers, airlines, home builders, banks, newspapers and countless other ailing industries are slashing staff. Your job could disappear tomorrow. Getting ready for your next career transition should be part of your workday schedule today. Here are some career transition tips that you should pay attention to long before you are walked out of your workplace: Transfer your latest performance review, summary of accomplishments, address list of business and personal contacts, work samples and laudatory customer letters to a jump drive--a portable computer-storage device--so you can retrieve them from outside the office. Update your resume but don't plan on sending it out until you have discussed what's next for you with a career coach....because you only have one chance to make a good first impression with people who can help you find your next job. When an executive is looking for another job, a huge mistake is to send his or her resume to prospective employers. Why? Because prospective employers are not interested in your past responsibilities, education and experience. You will only turn their heads by being clear as to what you are looking for in a position with their company, what you have accomplished in your life and past work experiences, what your signature talents are and what other firms you may be considering in your job search.


Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 6:26 a.m.

duh. Once you're unemployed you can't afford to eat out as often (expensive food laden with fat and sodium) and drink as much.