have higher rates of depressive symptoms,” he says. They are also twice as
likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.
Till von Wachter, an assistant professor of economics at Columbia
University, and Daniel Sullivan, chief
economist of the Federal Reserve
Bank of Chicago, have examined the
life spans of thousands of employees
who experienced mass layoffs. Their
research shows that laid-off workers
have a 15 to 20 percent higher death
rate in the two decades following their
dismissal. Employees in traditionally
high-wage sectors, such as manufacturing, are particularly vulnerable.
“Workers who have the highest losses
of earnings are also the ones who
experience the largest increases in
mortality,” says von Wachter.
Few know better than Jim Mc-
Clain, 46, just how debilitating job
loss can be. McClain worked at the
Abitibi paper mill in Sheldon, Texas,
for 23 years, running equipment that
recycled a ton of newsprint every min-
ute. When the plant closed, he tried
to market his computer and training
skills to prospective employers. He
even applied to drive a fuel truck in
Iraq. Not one offer came through.