- MEASURE DETAIL
Economic environment measures the environment in which health is being assessed though several key indicators of economic status. Health is influenced by many factors, one of them being the economic means of the population. Health status is associated with wealth as those with more wealth have greater means to access health care and healthy lifestyles. Five measures are used to gauge the economic environment of a state: median household income, personal income, unemployment rate, underemployment rate, and income disparity.
Unemployment Rate measures the total percentage of the civilian labor force that is unemployed. For most, employment is the source of income for sustaining a healthy life and for accessing health care. For many individuals, their employer is the source for their health care insurance. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics releases unemployment figures monthly and annually. The official definition of the unemployment rate is “total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force” and is the figure most widely published by the media.
Employer-sponsored health insurance is the most common form of health insurance in the U.S., and the unemployment rate provides information about the number of uninsured. Unemployment is also a contributor towards poverty, another cause of ill health. Unemployment has been associated with an increase in unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption.
 Dooley D, Fielding J, Levi L. Health and unemployment. Annu Rev Public Health. 1996;17:449-65.
- Annual unemployment rate: total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force (U-3 definition)
- Total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force (U-3 definition)
The measures tracked by America's Health Rankings are those actions that can affect the future health of the population. For a state to improve the health of its population, efforts must focus on these measures, these determinants of health.
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