Job Insecurity is Making Workers Sick

July 13, 2017
By Joe Maniscalco 

Worrying to illness. Photo: danniatherton via Visualhunt

Brooklyn, NY - Worries about losing your job could be making you sick, according to new research from Ball State University’s College of Health. 

A total of 17,441 workers participated in the college’s analysis, and is also associated with the decades old National Health Interview Survey. In the report, 33 percent of participants said that over the last 12 months, they felt insecure about holding onto their jobs. During that time period, male respondents were found to be more likely to suffer severe chest pain, ulcers and hypertension, causing them to miss more than two weeks of work. Female respondents, meanwhile, reported higher rates of asthma, diabetes and work-life imbalance - in addition to worsening general health and significant pain disorders including migraines and neck pain. 

Jagdish Khubchandani, community health education professor, and lead author of the Ball State research, calls the new findings very serious.

“Job insecure individuals will not be able to maintain good health and with time, will suffer from chronic diseases leading to healthcare and productivity loss related costs for employers across the country,” he says.

The Great Recession of 2008 hammered American workers. Those in New York City did not suffer as badly, according to a recent report out of Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. 

Nevertheless, even in New York City where employment is up some 14 percent, the jobs that people have been able to secure since the Great Recession are not as secure as those prior.

The comptroller’s recent report finds that over the last eight years, the job mix in New York City has shifted toward lower-paying jobs and more part-time work. 

“While nearly every segment of the population is better off than they were prior to the recession, not everyone has benefitted equally,” the author’s the comptroller’s report state. “Low-paid workers have seen no gains in real incomes; workers without a college degree are still suffering relatively high unemployment; and thousands more City residents are working part-time jobs in 2016 than in 2008.”

Lower wage jobs and part-time work that requires people to piece together two and three different gigs, just to get by — breed the kind of job insecurity and anxiety that Khubchandani warns about. 

Beyond the deterioration of American jobs, however, Khubchandani says that there are things employers can do to help make the positions that are available less toxic to workers. 

“To tackle the anxiety and fear of job loss in workers, American employers can use effective measures such as improving communication between management and workers; reducing conflicting or uncertain job responsibilities, establishing a program to recognize workers’ accomplishments, providing opportunities for workers to participate in company decisions and actions affecting their jobs, establishing employee assistance programs, assisting workers with improving work-life balance by using flex time, job sharing, work from home, eldercare and child support programs,” he says. 



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