Those unemployed for six months or longer are almost three times more likely to suffer from depression, according to a survey of over 350,000 Americans conducted by Gallup in 2013.
The poll outlined a link between long-term unemployment and a lack of optimism that a job seeker will find employment in the next four weeks. According to Gallup, after 27 weeks of pounding the pavement, optimism about finding a job in the next month drops from almost 70 percent to 40 percent. The same effect is seen in the opposite direction: pessimism about finding a job after 6 months rises from 30 percent to 71 percent.
Gallup cites additional reasons why hopelessness rises among job seekers after six months. “Employers preferred candidates without any relevant experience -- but who had been jobless for less than six months -- to those with experience who had been seeking work for longer than that,” argues economist Rand Ghayad in a 2012 study, according to Gallup.
Depression is also more likely among those employed part time but report wanting full-time work. In the study, 10.3 percent of those employed part time but who want full-time work report being depressed, which is double that of employed full-time workers.
According to the most recent jobs report, the United States economy has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession; however, this alone is not an accurate representation of a healthy economy. In fact, labor force participation—the rate at which those who are able to work contribute to the work force—the lowest it’s been since 1978, is “an indication that many would-be job seekers have simply given up.” According to International Business Times, these numbers are a sign “that for millions of Americans the economy has all but stopped functioning as a source of bill-paying opportunity.”
In that case, it is no surprise that for those who have spent six months or more unemployed, the possibility of a bright future seam bleak.