Long-Term Unemployment: 3 Psychological Effects You Shouldn’t Neglect!

A man wearing a suit walks across an empty city street.

Posted on

April 2, 2015


As a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Gallup conducted a survey to study the psychological effects of long-term unemployment and found some startling new data:

1. Depression

Long-term unemployed are more than 3x likely to be depressed than full-time unemployed. 

While only 5.6% of Americans employed full-time say they currently have or are being treated for depression, this rate more than doubles for unemployed Americans, jumping to 12.4%. However, the depression rate among the long-term unemployed — individuals seeking work for 27 weeks or more — shoots up to 18.0%.

2. Isolation

Long-term unemployed are more likely to isolate themselves from friends and family than short-term unemployed.

When respondents were asked to tally how long they had socialized with friends and family — including email and online communication — 31.1% of the long-term unemployed reported spending only two hours or less with family or friends the previous day, compared to 21.5% among short-term unemployed adults.

gallup survey3. Pessimism

The longer Americans remain unemployed, the less likely they are to believe they will find a job within the next 4 weeks.

Among those who had been jobless for only three-to-five weeks, 30.6% did not believe they would find a job within the next month; however, among those who had been jobless for 52 weeks or more, this pessimistic outlook was shared by a whopping 71.3% of respondents.

The Psychological & Economic Quicksand of Joblessness

The psychological distresses associated with joblessness are not particularly new, but observing how these symptoms heighten and persist among the long-term unemployed over time sheds new light into the jobless trap many struggle to escape.

If joblessness can more likely lead to depression — a condition which makes it even harder to land a job — we must ask ourselves how we can break the cycle of joblessness quicker, and help get the unemployed back to work, faster.

By Tallulah David

INTOO Staff Writer

INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.

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