Pandemic-related job losses in the United States associated with psychological distress in U.S. Adults

Employment changes that are negative during the COVID-19 epidemic are associated with psychological distress According to a recent study conducted by UCLA researchers and published in the November edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

In-depth analyses based on data from the national health, ethnicity and Pandemic Study (HEAP) found that negative employment changes like reductions in pay, job loss and temporary job losses were more closely associated with psychological anxiety in U.S. adults working before the COVID-19 epidemic. Stratified analyses by race further revealed the effects of negative employment changes on psychological distress were most severe among Asian Americans and Black Americans.

The purpose of our study was to examine the effects of COVID-19 on employment and how that would affect Americans’ mental health. Our study is unique because it includes an nationally representative sample. It captures the severe and rapid unemployment caused by the COVID-19 epidemic about 4 to 14% in March 2020.

Dr. Liwei Ching, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Associate Professor of Epidemiology and the lead author of this study

The November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine features the study titled “Negative changes in employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Psychological distress”. The study is led by UCLA researchers in collaboration with scholars from seven other U.S. and international institutions.

In addition, the study is a reminder of the growing inequality in income and health between different racial/ethnic communities in the U.S that have been made worse by the pandemic, citing the increase in white-nonwhite gap in employment.

Timothy Matthews, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and the first author of this study, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic caused sudden and massive changes in society. “However, we found that the impacts of COVID-19 are not evenly spread across all populations. Racial and ethnic minorities have undoubtedly been the most affected, across many levels. Our study also provides evidence of mental health disparities during COVID-19.

Since March 2020 the pandemic has been brought on by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Nov. 19, more than 78,000 Americans with COVID-19 have passed away since January, 2020.

While statistical analysis of the entire study sample showed an increase in psychological distress as a result of negative employment changes, particularly permanent job loss, additional analyses by race/ethnicity revealed that Asians were more severely affected than Whites. Blacks followed.

Furthermore, only Asian people felt significantly more emotional distress after experiencing reductions in pay, whereas other races/ethnicities did not. Asian people also had the highest levels of psychological distress among all racial/ethnic subgroups.

“These findings have implications on the current political climate in the U.S.” Dr. Jian Li, a professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and School of Nursing, said that the findings have implications for. “Given the ongoing state of the economy the findings of our study add to the body of evidence that shows a vital need for comprehensive employer and government policy interventions that take into account the impact of racial equality as a result. We need to protect our workers, and their mental health.”

Methods In the national HEAP Study information on employment changes during the COVID-19 pandemic was utilized to investigate the relationships between psychological anxiety and 1,510 adults who were employed prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Further analyses that were stratified were conducted across subgroups of racial origin. To ensure that the distributions of the sample into line with the larger population distribution in the U.S., weighting was used.

Journal reference:

Matthews, T.A., and al. (2021). Negative Changes in Employment During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Evidence From a Nationally Representative Survey in the U.S. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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