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Healthy Workers More Likely to Succeed, Says Survey

Results of the 2000 California Work and Health Survey show a high rate of job loss and poverty-level incomes among workers with physical or mental health problems.

California''s labor market remains strong, according to University of California San Francisco (UCSF) researchers.

Results of the 2000 California Work and Health Survey (CWHS) indicate high employment rates among all working age Californians, long hours of work and large numbers of workers who report promotions, new and better jobs and increased earnings.

However, despite the strength of the labor market, job loss, short job tenures and poverty-level incomes remain common among workers, especially those with physical or mental health problems, said Dr. Ed Yelin, professor at UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies and investigator of the survey.

The survey examines the health impacts of changes in the economy and examines how well people with health problems do economically.

"Health plays a central role in determining who succeeds in the labor market," said Yelin. "People who report fair and poor health are more than twice as likely as those in excellent, very poor or good health to be unemployed. Among those employed, those in poor health are much less likely to report a promotion or a new, better job in the past year and more likely to earn poverty level wages and to lack pension plans or health insurance."

"People who report fair or poor health are more likely to have jobs with high demands and low autonomy and work in environments with high levels of crime or noise," said Yelin.

In addition, the researchers reported that people with symptoms associated with depression have lower rates of employment, and among those who are employed, poorer working conditions and lower earnings.

Job loss can also lead to symptoms of depression. Among people who did not show symptoms of depression in 1999, those who lost their jobs between 1999 and 2000 were more than twice as likely to develop symptoms by 2000 than those who did not lose jobs, Yelin explained.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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