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Bad job or no job? For mental health, unemployment could be the better choice

March 15, 2011|By Tami Dennis, Tribune Health
  • When searching for a job, you don't have to be careful what you wish for. Just be careful what you choose.
When searching for a job, you don't have to be careful what you wish… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

Unemployment doesn't do much for one's mental health. No surprise there. But a lousy job -- defined as a position with no control, job insecurity, terrible pay -- takes much the same toll.

A new study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine confirmed that, overall, the unemployed do fare worse -- mentally -- than the employed.  But it also found that the unemployed fare about the same, if not better, than people with "poor quality" jobs.

In fact, unemployed workers who were able to find a job sometimes found themselves in a worse mental state.

Some might call it the death of hope.

The researchers, who reviewed data from 7,155 working-age people to reach their conclusion, had a more nuanced, if less than shocking, take. They wrote: "Work of poor psychosocial quality does not bestow the same mental health benefits as employment in jobs with high psychosocial quality."

In short: If you have a lousy job, update the resume. If you don't have a job, choose carefully.

RELATED: U.S. unemployment sinks to 8.9% as jobs are created

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