Employed More Healthy; Unemployed Least

Americans working full time or part time had healthier habits than people who were unemployed. And the healthiest group of all was those people not in the workforce.

The less happy you are with your employment status, the less likely you are to practice good health habits, according to a new Gallup poll.

The survey found that Americans working full time or part time had healthier habits than people who were unemployed. And the healthiest group of all was those people not in the workforce, which means they aren’t actively seeking employment.

The survey included four groups: employed full time or voluntarily part time; employed part time but wanting full-time work; unemployed and looking for work; and not in the workforce.

Unemployed are 68% more likely to report that they smoke than those who are employed full time or voluntarily part time, according to the poll.

Only 19.5% of those working full time or voluntarily part time smoke, but increases dramatically the more unhappy people are with their employment status. A quarter (26.7%) of part-timers who want to be full time smoke and 32.8% of those unemployed and looking for work smoke. For the two groups wanting a different employment status, the highest percentage of smokers are those ages 30 to 44. However, for people happy with their employment status, its 18- to 29-year-olds who smoke the most.

Adults not in the workforce are more likely to report eating fruits and vegetables regularly. While the full time/voluntarily part time group ate the most fruits and vegetables, there wasn’t a huge difference from the other two groups.

Workers and unemployed report working out more than those not in the workforce. Those ages 18 to 44 were the least likely to exercise at least three times a week. For the full time/voluntarily part time group people 18 to 29 exercised the most; however, for the unemployed group, those 65-plus exercised the most.

There are a number of reasons, according to Gallup that account for employed being healthier. For instance, some workplaces offer incentive programs. However, it could just be demographics.

“The unemployed tend to have lower levels of education, which is correlated with unhealthy choices,” according to Gallup.

It is also possible that people who make healthier choices are more likely to hold employment than those leading less health lives. However, it is true that some workplaces are sources of unhealthy eating opportunities.

“Ultimately, healthy choices should be attainable regardless of employment status, but the role of employers in engendering and incentivizing these behaviors can continue to serve as a leading factor in the fight to improve Americans' health,” according to the survey.