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Fear of Job Loss

As our indicator on job security has noted, almost 30 percent of employed Canadians say that they feel that their jobs are not secure. Indeed, not being confident that you’ll still be employed in the weeks and months to come can be a source of both stress and worry. 

 

One In Seven Stressed by Job Insecurity

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).
 

There was no difference in the perceptions of job security of men and for women – in both cases, about one in seven workers indicated that the threat of being laid off or losing their job was a source of worry or stress in 2000. While young people tend to have the highest unemployment rates, and presumably the hardest time finding work, young workers are the least likely to say that the threat of losing their job had caused them stress or worry at some point during the year. Indeed, this finding mirrors what was observed in our indicator on job security – that young people were more likely than workers over the age of 24 to indicate that their sense of job security was good. There are several possible explanations for this observation - it may reflect the disproportionate number of young people who work part-time, and as a result, are more likely to have their hours cut rather than be laid off by their employer. Also, young people tend to frequently move from job to job, more so than older workers do. Finally a larger proportion of young people work in order to earn spending money and are less dependent on their job to pay rent or a mortgage, buy food, or support children. For these reasons, the prospect of job loss is less likely to cause them stress or worry. 

Those who are aged 55 years or more are also less likely to indicate that the fear of losing their job was a source of stress or worry during the year. This may be the case because many workers have the greatest seniority in the workplace, and may be less likely to be laid off. Moreover, it can be expected that many older workers are very close to full retirement and the threat of losing employment income may be less stressful for those in a financially secure position. Nevertheless, not all older workers would be financially secure in the case of job loss; indeed, one in nine report that the threat of job loss causes them excess worry or stress.

 

By Region

Fear of Job Loss Most Common in B.C.

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).
 

The threat of losing one’s job as a source of stress varies somewhat by region. Those from Quebec were the least likely to say they felt stressed or worried about their their job security during 2000, while those from British Columbia were the most likely to say they felt stressed over the prospect of losing their jobs during the year. Provincial variations will reflect in large part differences in the industrial composition of employment and in the size of employers. 

In the late 1990s, for example, many Asian economies fell into a deep recession, and the B.C. economy is fairly reliant on trade with countries in the Pacific Rim. Indeed, the B.C. government reports that roughly a third of all B.C. exports are earmarked for Asian destinations. The heightened levels of job insecurity reported by B.C. workers likely reflects in part the perceived effect the Asian recession would have on the B.C. economy. 

Also, provinces that are dependent on primary products, like the forestry for instance, or mining, will be vulnerable to fluctuations in international markets. And, of course, the United States remains Canada’s biggest trading partner, so events in the U.S. will have a big impact on how secure Canadians perceive their jobs to be. This will be especially the case for workers in those industries that are heavily reliant on the U.S. market.

 

By Income Level

Those Who Earn the Least Most Fearful of Job Loss

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).
 

Those who earn more are less likely to worry about losing their job. Whereas a fifth of those in the lowest income groups, that is those who earned less than $30,000, said that the prospect of losing their job had caused them worry, only one in eight employees in the top income group noted that this was the case. 

There are several possible explanations for this difference. First, those in higher income brackets will tend to have higher levels of education, as there is a strong relationship between earnings and level of education. Such individuals will generally be highly skilled and many may feel confident that they can find alternate employment in the event they lose their job. Also, those with higher earnings will tend to be older, and in unionized settings, and will have the seniority that can help to cushion or protect them from layoff. It may also be that some high earners will also have savings or other assets that can be called on to help them through a period of job loss. Those in lower income groups will likely have fewer, if any, savings to call upon in time of need.

 

By Industry

Fear of Job Loss Most Common Among Those in Management Support

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).
 

At one in five, workers in management support services were the most likely to say that the possibility of losing their job has been a source of stress or worry at some point during the year. The near ubiquitous presence of computers in offices, and the increased use of email, voice mail and other forms of communications technology has meant that many of the services historically performed by office support staff are less and less in demand.

Those in transportation and utilities, public administration and natural resources were also quite likely to say that the threat of losing their job had been a source of stress. Indeed, in the mid- to late 1990s, many governments in Canada privatized services and cut the size of the public sector workforce in their desire to trim government budgets. And, as we noted earlier, workers in the primary industries are particularly vulnerable to the ups and downs of international markets. That is the case for parts of the transportation and utilities industry as well, the airline industry in particular. 

Various industries in the service sector rank near the bottom of the industry list, with those in accommodation, food, retail and wholesale trade, being least likely to report that the threat of losing their job had been a source of stress at some point during the year. These industries, while subject to market forces, are less vulnerable to fluctuations in the international economy, and the Canadian economy was performing strongly in the late 1990s. 

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