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Correlates of life satisfaction and unemployment stigma and the impact of length of unemployment on a unique unemployed sample

Gary Blau (Human Resource Management Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Tony Petrucci (Human Resource Management Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
John McClendon (Human Resource Management Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 14 June 2013

2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test a process model of coping with job loss by examining the impact of distal to proximal variable sets for incrementally explaining two distinct subjective well‐being variables: life satisfaction and unemployment stigma. A second purpose is to test for mean differences between study scales for increasingly long‐term unemployed individuals.

Design/methodology/approach

A unique sample of unemployed victims completed an online survey investigating the impact of six variable sets on life satisfaction and unemployment stigma. These sets fall within the McKee‐Ryan et al. taxonomy and included: human capital and demographics; personal and financial coping resources; cognitive appraisal; escape‐focused coping; problem‐focused coping; and job search effort.

Findings

Results partially supported the hypothesized variable set impact order on both life satisfaction and unemployment stigma. In addition some significant differences on study variables were found comparing four unemployed groups: up to six months; and three progressively long‐term unemployed groups, i.e. seven to 12 months; 13 to 24 months; and over 24 months, with the over 24 month unemployed respondents (23 per cent of the sample) suffering the most.

Research limitations/implications

The cross‐sectional self‐report study research design is the foremost limitation. However, given the challenges of collecting unemployment related‐data on such a diverse sample, the unemployment agency/job services recent‐job‐loss‐respondent longitudinal data collection approach used in previous research was not an option. The one‐factor test found that only 15 per cent of “common method variance” was explained by the first factor, suggesting that this is not an overriding limitation. Survey constraints necessitated using shortened validated scales in several instances. However, the authors did select the highest loading items when shortening scales and such scales were generally reliable.

Practical implications

Implications of study results for careers and steps to prevent longer‐term unemployment are discussed. There seemed to be a general “disconnect” between unemployed respondent self‐ratings of positive skill assessment, networking comfort, and proactive search, all of which were fairly high, against recent behavioral job search which was lower. This disconnect suggests that it may be hard for many unemployed to objectively look at their job search process.

Originality/value

A unique unemployed sample, primarily executives, middle managers and professional, salaried individuals, with most being longer‐term unemployed, was utilized. Initial psychometric support for several new scales was found, including unemployment stigma and behavioral job search. This study represented a fairly comprehensive test of the McKee‐Ryan et al. taxonomy for correlates of psychological well‐being during unemployment specifically applied to life satisfaction and unemployment stigma. An innovative on‐line data collection approach, snowball sampling, was used.

Keywords

Citation

Blau, G., Petrucci, T. and McClendon, J. (2013), "Correlates of life satisfaction and unemployment stigma and the impact of length of unemployment on a unique unemployed sample", Career Development International, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 257-280. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-10-2012-0095

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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