Cross-sectional and longitudinal survey data are reported on two samples of young people. The younger sample was approx. 19-20 yr of age, and the older sample was 22-23 yr of age. Within each sample three target groups were distinguished: satisfied employed, dissatisfied employed and unemployed. On four measures of psychological well-being the dissatisfied employed were indistinguishable from the unemployed. This finding was interpreted as casting doubt on Jahoda's deprivation model. In all but one case, the satisfied employed were better off than either. In the younger but not the older sample, the satisfied employed exhibited higher self-esteem. Of twelve potential moderator variables, those related to social support and financial security proved to be the most important. However, the important moderating variables depended on age, the measure of psychological well-being and whether the young people were unemployed or dissatisfied with their jobs. None of the potential moderating variables were associated with well-being in the satisfied employed. This was seen as supporting the hypothesis that social support plays a buffering role in countering the psychological stress of unemployment (and unsatisfactory employment). Moreover, it was suggested that financial security may play a similar role.