Labor Day was developed to celebrate "the strength and spirit of corps of the trade and labor organizations." But with all the news showing a relationship between our working environments and ill health, it can be hard to recognize all the ways that jobs contribute to our wellbeing. From the dangers of sitting for too long to the sleep disruption of shift work, employment gets a bad rap when it comes to health.
Still, according to a report from the UK's Department for Work and Pensions that surveyed labor research, those who are employed are less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to suffer from chronic disease, less likely to suffer from mental illness and actually have a lower mortality rate. While some of that difference may not be causal (for example, those who suffer from chronic or mental illness already may be less employable), many of the characteristics of a steady job are essential to wellbeing.
Of course, it's important to note that we're talking about good jobs -- the kind with a livable wage, benefits, vacation time, reasonable hours, and a sense of satisfaction and belonging. As the New York Times reported, much of the job growth we've experienced during our economic recovery has been among low-wage, unskilled labor. And as the data shows again and again, this is the least healthful type of work. Instead, dedicate this Labor Day to giving thanks for the well-paying, supportive and fulfilling job you have -- or working towards making that employment situation a reality for others.
So how does work help you? Read on.