Unemployed and Looking for Work? Think Twice Before Taking Just Any Job

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Research shows that joblessness is bad for our health, but that doesn't mean that just any old gig is beneficial for our bodies: As MinnPost reports, a new British study suggests that workers who accept a bad job to escape unemployment actually exhibit more physical stress than their jobless counterparts. This can heighten their risk for conditions like anxiety, depression, heart attack, and stroke.

Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the study tracked 1116 British adults enrolled in the UK Household Longitudinal Study. These subjects all experienced a period of unemployment during 2009 and 2010, during which they were both physically and mentally assessed to measure how chronic stress was affecting their bodies.

These evaluations (including the mental health assessment) were repeated around two to three years later, after many of the participants had landed new jobs. But this time around, they were asked a series of questions, including how anxious their job made them, whether the salary was good, how satisfied they were, and whether they had autonomy or security.

Researchers crunched the numbers and found that those who'd taken bad jobs exhibited more physical evidence of chronic stress—including higher biomarkers of inflammation, and a lower creatinine clearance rate, which measures how well the kidneys are functioning—than those who'd remained unemployed. Meanwhile, subjects who scored good-quality jobs were in better physical health. They also showed improvements in mental health, whereas their counterparts who'd accepted bad jobs showed no improvements.

"Job quality cannot be disregarded from the employment success of the unemployed and may have important implications for their health and well-being," concluded researchers Tarani Chandola and Nan Zhang, who are medical sociologists at the University of Manchester. "Just as 'good work is good for health,' we must also remember poor quality work can be detrimental for health."

Thanks to financial concerns, not everyone has the luxury to hold out for the perfect position. But at the end of the (work)day, your physical well-being is priceless—so if you're not hard up, don't settle for a mediocre job just to pad your résumé.

[h/t MinnPost]