Reason for Ranking
The unemployed population experiences worse health and higher mortality rates than the employed population.[1,2] Unemployment has been shown to lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, diet, exercise, and other health-related behaviors, which in turn can lead to increased risk for disease or mortality, especially suicide. Because employer-sponsored health insurance is the most common source of health insurance coverage, unemployment can also limit access to health care.
Measurement Strengths and Limitations
Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data are readily available and reliably cover 99.9% of US counties. Some analysts find this official unemployment measure flawed because individuals who want work but who have given up seeking work (discouraged workers) are not counted as officially unemployed. Discouraged workers can comprise a significant enough percentage of the total population to skew unemployment figures. None of the measures reliably discerns the unemployed who cannot find work at their preferred wage level from those who cannot find work at any wage.