The terrifying financial insecurity of unemployment may not even be the worst part of losing your job.
That's because the chance that a person will die increases between 50 and 100 percent during the years immediately after they lose their job due to mass layoffs, a plant closing or another form of "displacement", according to a study from researchers at Columbia University and the Chicago Federal Reserve.
The research, which examined male workers in Pennsylvania in the 1970s and 1980s, also found that even twenty years after a worker loses their job, they’re still 10 to 15 percent more likely than someone who wasn't displaced to die sooner.
That means that workers who were laid off in middle age could die one to one-and-a-half years sooner than if they never lost their job, according to the study.
The study's findings are just some of the many reasons that experts are so concerned about the effects of long-term unemployment. The stigma associated with long-term unemployment is so bad that it's actually boosting the jobless rate, as workers sit idle, their skills atrophy and they become less employable, according to a February report from the Congressional Budget Office.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has also expressed concern about long-term unemployment, saying during a Senate Budget Committee hearing that it will alter the job market for the foreseeable future. He also noted that more than 40 percent of unemployed Americans have been looking for a job for more than six months.
Still, the overall job market may be on its way to a slow recovery. Employers probably added 200,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent, according to the median projection from economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The Labor Department will release the March jobs report this Friday.