According to Richard Victor, executive director of the Cambridge, Mass.-based Workers Compensation Research Institute, and Bogdan Savych, public policy analyst for the organization, recessions typically mean fewer job opportunities and a greater likelihood that an injured worker will not be able to find suitable return-to-work employment. In a particularly severe recession, the authors noted, it might be expected that a larger number of injured workers will suffer longer term unemployment.
However, the study concluded that the severity of the current recession has generated an especially high level of fear of job loss, leading workers to behave differently by engaging in more aggressive efforts to return to the job after an injury. The researchers said this has offset a portion of the traditional negative effects of recessions on return-to-work outcomes of injured workers.
"These workers may be more aggressive in seeking return-to-work opportunities, making an extra effort to return to work earlier or to take steps to increase their chances that their job will exist after return to work," the study said.
The study noted that injured workers in areas with unemployment rates that are rising or that are higher than normal for the area are more likely to fear losing their jobs.
"The greater the fear, the more likely it is that workers will more actively pursue returning to work, thus reducing the number of workers that experience longer-term unemployment," the report stated.
The authors said the trend won't last forever, adding that as the economy strengthens and the unemployment rate falls, "there will be more job opportunities, less fear of job loss, and perhaps less aggressive efforts by injured workers to seek reemployment."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 12, 2010
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