With last week’s unexpected unemployment report of 10.2% analysts predict the number to go to 11% by mid-2010. Those are government average stats so California trends even higher. You would think these pressures would boil over into a daily Peter Finch meltdown somewhere, right? Causing us to smoke, eat, and drink ourselves right into depression and perhaps an early grave.
As odd as it seems, economists are finding the exact opposite to be the case.
University of North Carolina economist Christopher Ruhm has found that every one-percent rise in unemployment drives down the death rate by .5%. This holds true for the US and some 25 other countries studied in the midst of this protracted recession. Arguments are that with more time on their hands, underemployed Americans are hitting the gym more, smoking less, walking more, going out to eat less, and getting more sleep.
So you see, there is a silver lining. Just not for those who are working at a frenetic pace, keeping things going in the absence of those who have been downsized. Maybe that’s what the economists are working on next. They too, have job security to think about.
More reading on this can be found here.