California labor market is strong, but workers in poor health don't benefit, UCSF study reports

California's labor market remains strong, according to 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 some of California's workers, especially among people with physical or mental health problems, said Ed Yelin, PhD, professor at the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies and the principal investigator of the 2000 California Work and Health Survey.

The survey, led by Yelin and co-principal investigator, Laura Trupin, MPH, senior research associate in the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies, 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, according to Yelin. People who report fair or poor health are more than twice as likely as those in excellent, very good or good health to be unemployed. Among the employed, those in poor health are much less likely to report a promotion or a new, better job in the past year, he said.

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, Yelin added. In addition, they are more likely to earn poverty level wages and to lack pension plans or health insurance. Among people employed in 1999, those in fair or poor health were more than twice as likely as those in better health to lose their jobs by the time they were re-interviewed in 2000, even after taking into account age, gender and race, explained Yelin.

The researchers reported that people with symptoms associated with depression have low rates of employment and, amo

Contact: Maureen McInaney
University of California - San Francisco

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