Key findings from The Generation Effect: Millennials, employment precarity and the 21st century workplace — a new study by Jeffrey C. Martin and Wayne Lewchuk — show that the relationship between employment precarity and poor mental health is clear. In fact, “workers in precarious employment are three times more likely to report their mental health as poor/fair than workers in secure employment.” The Generation Effect’s definition of precarious employment includes temporary, seasonal, casual employment, self-employment without any employees, and permanent part-time work.
Millennials, those born between 1982 and 1997, are “a generation whose hopes and dreams are shaped by an economy that no longer provides the job and income security that their parents and grandparents experienced,” the Generation Effect Executive Summary states. “It is a story of the game of life getting harder, not easier.” These findings are the result of the 89-question online Hamilton Millennial Survey (HMS), which surveyed 1,189 employed Hamilton millennials not in full-time education. The survey found that despite a high level of post-secondary education, only 44 per cent of millennials have found permanent full-time employment.
Poor mental health, including anxiety, depression, and anger, is just one of the multiple serious side effects of employment precarity that Martin shared earlier this month with a crowd of around 50 attendees at an event sponsored by the McMaster University School of Labour Studies, Hamilton Community Foundation, and Hamilton HIVE at the Hamilton Public Library. While other side effects of precarious employment include delaying major life decisions and being turned down for financial services, Martin called poor mental health among respondees “the biggest red flag” of the study, which finds that as employment security increases among millennials, mental health improves.
Findings of the study related to mental health include:
- Female millennials are 30% more likely than males to report being depressed as a result of work.
- Millennial workers in general reported a high prevalence of poor mental health
- One in 4 millennials indicated their mental health was poor/fair.
- More millennials born in Canada reported poor/fair mental health (28.4%) compared to millennials born outside of Canada (17.6%).
- Almost 40% of millennials in precarious employment or earning less than $40,000 reported their mental health was poor/fair.
- Almost 3 in 10 millennials reported being depressed or anxious often because of their work situation.
- Almost one-half of millennials in precarious employment reported being depressed or anxious often as a result of work or work status.
- Almost 4 in 10 millennials in precarious employment reported being angry often because of work or work status.
Unlike generations before them, most millennials do not have jobs that offer extended health benefits, pension plans, or other employer-funded benefits, which not only contributes to stress, but also means mental health support is not always available when needed.