Unemployment—Still a World Problem
UNEMPLOYMENT involves more than simply being out of work. “Gradually you lose your self-respect, your sense of identity, and contact with the outside world,” was the reaction of a former teacher. Said another idle worker: “I feel like I am dead inside.” Some who have been laid off have become so desperate that they have threatened to kill job counselors.
The complexity of the problem is becoming more apparent, however, as the number of jobless people increases around the world. “More than 500 million people are out of work or under-employed in the Third World, according to the International Labor Organization,” reported The Toronto Star. “Another 50 million are out of work in Europe and North America,” it added, indicating the scope of the situation. Canada doled out $6.8 billion in unemployment-insurance benefits in a ten-month period, about 72 percent higher than in the same period of the previous year. And Canada’s jobless figure recently rose to 13.5 percent, up from a previous 11.2 percent.
Though the rate of unemployment in the United States has dropped to 8 percent in 1984, some states have suffered rates as high as 14.9 percent.
“For more than 10 million Americans who desperately need and want jobs, recovery is not even in sight,” says labor union president Lane Kirkland in U.S.News & World Report.
Job prospects in Britain are dim too. A report by the Cambridge Economic Group sees unemployment rising to more than four million by the end of the decade.
In eight countries of Europe and in Japan, there are more unemployed than there were last year, notes The Economist of February 18, 1984. This winter the Federal Republic of Germany had its highest unemployment figures in its postwar history.
In Yugoslavia “up to 15 percent of the nation’s workers—about 900,000 people—are jobless, with the unemployed ranks still swelling,” says U.S.News & World Report.
One out of five workers in Ivory Coast is out of a job, estimates Time magazine.
Many people do not appreciate the psychological, physical and social consequences to the unemployed and their families, or how bleak work prospects add to the frustrations of those out of work. Being without a job “can have devastating effects on employees and their families,” said one report on unemployment. It explained: “Loss of self respect, insomnia, strained family relations, domestic violence, depression, alcohol abuse and even suicide are well documented reactions to job loss.” Newspaper headlines claim: “Suicide, crime are linked to unemployment.”
Some challenge the “suicide-economy link,” but researchers in the United States point to a 13-percent increase in suicides during a three-month period in the United States when the “corresponding increase in the unemployment rate was 28 per cent.” According to their analysis, “a 1 percentage point increase in the annual unemployment rate leads to 320 additional suicides for men per year.”
The negative psychological effects are serious. “Unemployment is a killer,” said another headline. Its article told of rising cardiovascular disease and an increase in homicides. A medical doctor and journalist, Hugh Drummond, called unemployment “one of the greatest health menaces ever.” A minister stated: “I have buried men who I believe died from unemployment.”
If you are out of a job, can you do anything to cope with the ravages of unemployment? Are there ways to manage until you are hired again? Are there ways to make work or find other work to do? What can be done about your frame of mind, so essential to maintaining balance?
[Chart on page 3]
Australia․․․․․ 9.5% Belgium․․․․․․ 14.8%
Canada․․․․․․․ 11.2% France․․․․․․․․ 9.8%
Fed. Rep. of Holland․․․․․․ 17.8%
Germany․․․․․․․ 8.8% Japan․․․․․․․․․ 2.6%
Italy․․․․․․․․ 12.6% Switzerland․․․ 1.0%
Sweden․․․․․․․․ 3.7% U.S.A.․․․․․․․․ 8.0%
(Source: The Economist, February 18, 1984)