Worker health on the decline, study indicates

Boston Globe correspondent Maggie Jackson reports on a study indicating that worker health is on the decline, and that worker morale and engagement are likely to be among the casualties.

As the national health care debate heats up, a timely report from the nonprofit Families and Work Institute details the worrying effect of a stressed-out, time-strapped, overworked era. Too many of us are fat, sick, sleepless, and inactive. Just 28 percent of US workers say their health is excellent, down from 34 percent six years ago. And businesses are suffering as a result, not simply from rising costs for health care. Workers in poor health are less likely to be loyal, engaged, and satisfied with their jobs, the findings show.

Of course, the recession is a significant aggravating factor.  New York Times reporter Louis Uchitelle, whose coverage of the human consequences of the recession is worthy of praise, recently wrote about the personal and economic impact of a 50 percent pay cut experienced by an airline captain:

The dark blue captain’s hat, with its golden oak-leaf clusters, sits atop a bookcase in Bryan Lawlor’s home, out of reach of the children. . . . He is now in the co-pilot’s seat in the 50-seat commuter jets he flies, not for any failure in skill. He wears his captain’s stripes, he explains, to make that point. But with air travel down, his employer cut costs by downgrading 130 captains, those with the lowest seniority, to first officers, automatically cutting the wage of each by roughly 50 percent — to $34,000 in Mr. Lawlor’s case.

Jackson’s Boston Globe article, “Sick, on the Job”: http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/10/18/workers_health_suffers_as_trying_economic_times_ratchet_up_job_stress/

Uchitelle’s New York Times article, “Still on the Job, but at Half the Pay”: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/business/economy/14income.html

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