Here’s some more rough news about America’s unemployed: The longer Americans are out of work, the greater the risk that they will become depressed.
That’s according to new data released from Gallup from a yearlong survey of 356,599 Americans. The risk of depression gets especially severe at unemployment’s high end:
While the total incidence of depression for all unemployed people (12.4 percent) is nearly twice that of all employed people (6.4 percent), it’s even grimmer for Americans who have been out of work for months. The long-term unemployed — people who have been out of a job for at least 27 weeks — are nearly three times as likely to be depressed than people who are working:
This isn’t just about feeling glum. As the American Psychological Association points out, the unemployed are more than twice as likely as those with jobs to be not just depressed, but also to suffer from “anxiety, pyschosomatic symptoms, low subjective well-being and poor self-esteem.”
Emotional depression has a sizable impact on the broader economy. A 2003 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that depression costs the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars annually, in part because of “direct treatment costs, lost earnings due to depression-related suicides, and indirect workplace costs.” The costs could be particularly high now, especially when you keep in mind that the number of long-term unemployed Americans was at 3.4 million in May, nearly unchanged from April. That group makes up 34.6 percent of all unemployed Americans.
With Congress still trying to figure out unemployment-insurance extensions, it’s hard to see this picture getting any rosier too soon. But hey, it’s not just the unemployed who suffer: As a 2013 Gallup survey found, depression has a big impact on the lives of employed workers, too.