Contemporary Occupational Health Psychology: Global Perspectives on Research and Practice

Contemporary Occupational Health Psychology: Global Perspectives on Research and Practice

Contemporary Occupational Health Psychology: Global Perspectives on Research and Practice

Contemporary Occupational Health Psychology: Global Perspectives on Research and Practice

Synopsis

Published in association with the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology (EAOHP) and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology (SOHP), Contemporary Issues in Occupational Health Psychology is a definitive new series presenting state-of-the-art work by leading academics and practitioners in the field. Topics include workplace health intervention evaluation, economic stress and employee well-being, work-family positive spillover, psychological flexibility, and health at work. Contributors to this first volume include Arnold Bakker, Frank Bond, Maureen Dollard, Leslie Hammer, Robert Karasek, Michiel Kompier, Tahira Probst, Wilmar Schaufeli, Arie Shirom, Robert Sinclair, Toon Taris and Töres Theorell.

Excerpt

Robert R. Sinclair, Lindsay E. Sears, and Mark Zajack Clemson University, USA

Tahira Probst Washington State University Vancouver, USA

We write this chapter in the midst of a global economic crisis; international markets and financial systems have been disrupted and many companies have struggled, not always with successful outcomes. For example, a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009c) indicated that in the first quarter of 2009, 3,489 mass layoff events resulted in some 550,000 workers being separated from their jobs for at least 31 days, the most since the BLS began tracking these numbers in 1996. Many other workers now hold positions that are below their desired level of pay, responsibility, or hours of work; still others have given up searching for employment. As of May 2009, the U.S. labor force included 2.2 million marginally attached workers, a 177% increase from the previous year, and 9.1 million workers in involuntary part-time positions, an increase of 4.4 million between December 2007 and May 2009. Including such underemployed, marginally attached, and discouraged workers yields a May 2009 unemployment rate of 16.4% for the United States (BLS, 2009a).

Of course, such trends are not limited to the United States; the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2009) predicted that 2009 would be the worst year for global job creation since it began keeping records in 1991. As many as 1.5 to 1.6 billion workers are in vulnerable employment worldwide, or up to 52.8 percent of the global workforce (ibid.). These workers are less likely to earn an adequate income, more likely to experience labor rights violations, and less able to protect themselves from abuse (ILO, 2009; U.K. Department of Trade and Industry, 2006). The financial crisis also has placed additional downward pressure on wages and the ILO estimates that between 38% and 45% of the world’s workforce would meet the definition of “working poor” (i.e., people who earn less than US$2 per day) by the end of 2009. Worse, as many as 200 million workers, mostly in developing countries, could be pushed into extreme poverty (US$1.25, or less, per day). The downward trends of 2008–2009 seem unlikely to be permanent and, even as we write, there are some initial signs of economic recovery. However, international markets seem unlikely to . . .

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