The article argues that job insecurity has subjective aspects that are not determined by the objective levels of security of someone's employment status. These subjective aspects can be divided into two elements: the perceived probability and the perceived severity of job loss. The psychological consequences of job insecurity supposedly vary as a function of the objective status and the two constituting elements of subjective job insecurity. Results are reported from a study in the Netherlands among 1706 workers in five employment statuses that differ in degree of security. The perceived probability and severity of job loss were assessed, as were five possible consequences of subjective insecurity. The article shows that (1) job insecurity reflects the 'objective' conditions people are in; (2) the appraisal of job insecurity results from the functioning of the probability and severity of job loss; and (3) probability and severity have different consequences depending on employment status. © The Author(s) 2010.