The 10 Industries With The Most Depressed Workers



The United States is seriously depressed, with about 1 in 10 American adults reporting depression.

Just as depression varies from state to state, and among the employed and unemployed, rates vary significantly by industry, finds a new study we first saw written up at Discover.

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The percentage of workers who are depressed ranges from 6.9% in the amusement/recreation industry to 16.2% in the passenger transit industry. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the University of Cincinnati, and Highmark, Inc. (a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer) collaborated on the report, published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Here are the rankings, via Neuroskeptic.


Industries With the Highest Rates of Depression

1. Local/Intercity Passenger Transit

2. Real Estate

3. Social Services

4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing Industries

5. Personal Services


6. Legal Services

7. Environmental Quality / Housing

8. Membership Organizations

9. Security and Commodity Brokers

10. Printing and Publishing


One important caveat is that while the data was collected from a large claims database that included 214,413 working adults across 55 industries, it includes only people in Western Pennsylvania. We can't assume that trends in that region will generalize to the country, and certainly not to the world. (Coal mining, for example, was associated with the highest risk for suicide in a study of British workers, "but in Western Pennsylvania, coal miners had amongst the lowest rates of treated depression," Neuroskeptic pointed out in the Discover blog post.)

Still, the new study still provides an interesting first look at how depression varies by industry in the U.S. - an analysis that, the researchers note, has "little precedent."

While depression has clear emotional and physical costs, it has financial costs as well. The economic burden of depression in the U.S. has been estimated at $83.1 billion a year, mostly due to work-related costs like lost productivity and missed days. That's one reason employers and insurers are eager to investigate the problem.

While people at high risk for depression may be clustered in certain industries, there are also certain elements of jobs that are known to increase the risk of depression, like high stress combined with low decision-making power. "Industries with the highest rates [of depression] tended to be those which... require frequent or difficult interactions with the public or clients, and have high levels of stress and low levels of physical activity," the researchers write.