As expected, those who had multiple job losses over time generally tended to feel worse with each successive job loss. However, after digging deeper, the investigators found that this overall trend was in some instances bucked, depending on an individual's prior work history.
On the one hand, there were those who had previously experienced long periods of "economic inactivity," for reasons both voluntary and involuntary. Those included time off for maternity leave or educational pursuits; being made redundant; coping with long-term illness or having to care for others; or even retirement. During such times, they were not strictly "unemployed" in as much as they were not actively seeking work.
Eventually these "inactive" workers re-entered the workforce. But in turn, once they lost their newfound work and became actively "unemployed," their emotional experience of subsequent joblessness appeared to differ from that of newly unemployed workers who had never left the workforce.
For example, losing a job for the first or even second time was found to hit those with a continuous work history harder emotionally than those who had been economically inactive before re-entering the workforce.
Yet, those who kept searching for and finding new work without ever becoming unemployed seemed to develop a thicker skin by the time a third job loss came around. This meant that by their third job loss, those with a continuous work history actually suffered less emotional hardship than those with an inactive past, the study authors explained.
Booker and Sacker suggested that the underlying reason for these diverging and shifting reactions could be that men and women who never fully disengage from economic activity ultimately come to feel less anxious about repe
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