The Impact of Job Loss

Written by: Bob Conlon, LCSW, CEAP

While the national unemployment rate remains at a low rate, job security is not always guaranteed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.2 million separations in November 2017 which included quits, layoffs, discharges and other separations including retirement, death, disability and employer initiated transfers. Of this total, 1.7 million people were laid off and discharged one month before Christmas.

Losing one’s job is-at the very least-unsettling. Financial security is threatened by the loss of income and benefits. Status at work, in the community and in the family may change. A sense of identity, self-esteem and belonging often take a downturn. Some people describe losing a job as “losing a part of myself.” Accompanying that loss of self is the effect a job loss has on the family. Stress, embarrassment, anger, loss of confidence, moodiness, jealousy, and depression-emotions often felt by people who lose their jobs-affect not only the unemployed person, but everyone in the family unit.

According to an article in The New York Times, the greatest toll from the most recent recession in 2007 was not necessarily financial, but emotional and psychological, with children among its hidden casualties. Research has linked parental job loss to adverse effects on children in school performance, development, and self-esteem. Ariel Kalil, a developmental psychologist and professor of public policy at the University of Chicago, points to changes in family dynamics from job loss. Stressed, emotionally disengaged, or withdrawn parents have a huge impact on children, Kalil says. Grades may drop, social issues may develop, children may not understand or may resent that they can no longer buy new clothes or go on vacation.

Managing Job Loss

If you have lost your job, or are concerned about future unemployment, there are steps you can take to lessen the impact on you and your family. Research shows that the loss of a job itself neither breaks up families nor brings them closer together. It is reaction to the job loss that matters. If you are concerned about losing your job, the time to begin planning is now. That means cutting your expenses, saving as much as possible, talking honestly with your immediate family and even approaching other family members to ask if they could help if you need assistance.

If you lose your job or are unemployed, take good care of yourself through exercise, proper diet, and sleep. Apply for unemployment compensation immediately, make a budget if you don’t already have one and talk to your creditors if you expect to have problems paying bills. Take advantage of any help your employer offers, make use of outside assistance programs such state’s Employment Commissions, Employee Assistance Programs or outplacement firms and join support groups or networking organizations.

It’s important to try to stay positive, motivated and proactive. If you or a loved one has lost a job and also loses motivation or shows signs of depression, it’s probably time to seek professional help to get back on track for your own health and the health of your family.  An early call to the EAP is a great first step to help manage the complicated emotions related to job loss.

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