Employment is often necessary for one to have basic needs met, and meaningful employment can increase feelings of well-being and purpose. Employment contributes to the overall health and well-being of individuals by addressing financial security, promoting physical and mental health, fostering social connections, and supporting personal development and fulfillment. Over 158 million Americans are employed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unemployed individuals are more likely to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Employment in the United States has been shaped by a range of historical contexts and events, including the labor movement, the Great Depression, globalization, technological advancements, the Great Recession, and, more recently, COVID-19. Decades of discrimination in the workforce have created vast disparities in job opportunities, quality, and compensation, resulting in uneven impacts on worker health.
Today, the employment landscape is once again in flux due to technological advancements and automation, COVID-19 and related recovery, remote and flexible work, and the Gig economy and freelancing. There are significant employment disparities and inequities. Black and Latinx workers hold disproportionately low-paying and “essential” jobs and were more likely to feel the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing these disparities requires comprehensive efforts, including policies promoting equal opportunity, inclusive workplaces, anti-discrimination measures, educational equity, and targeted support for marginalized communities. Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in employment can help create a more just and equitable labor market.
Local communities and changemakers can influence employment in a variety of ways including:
Support for marginalized populations who often face employment barriers
Promote just economic development by fostering investment and innovation, diversifying industries, and creating a resilient labor market
Advocating for fair labor practices, equal employment opportunities, workforce development programs, and funding
Building social cohesion and connection to help connect diverse job seekers with opportunities
Employment is a key aspect of the Vital Condition for Well-Being, Meaningful Work & Wealth. Read more about this Vital Condition here.