But now a new a new Gallup poll identifies another possible risk factor: working part-time.
Of the 27 million part-time workers in America, 1 in 12 are currently being treated for depression, according to the Gallup poll; that's roughly 50 percent higher than the rate among full-time workers. And the poll found that a whopping 1 in 6 part-time workers has been diagnosed with depression in his or her lifetime, compared to a little over 1 in 10 for their full-time counterparts.
increasingly relied on part-time workers since the recession. But the Gallup poll, which interviewed almost a quarter million full-time employees and 66,000 part-timers, points out that this may have an unforeseen cost. Depressed workers, on average, take several extra sick days a year, which in total lost productivity, across the entire workforce, adds up to around $23.2 billion.
Part of the reason that depression rates are higher in the part-time workforce is that 30 percent of those part-time workers wish they were working more, and may be just scraping by on their scant hours. More than 14 percent of part-time workers are under the official poverty level, according to a 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than three times the rate for full-timers.
And the absolute, No. 1, greatest predictor for depression? Poverty.
During the recession and the recovery, far more Americans have fallen into poverty, endured the trauma of a lay off, or shifted to part-time work. This may be why Google searches for "I'm depressed" soared, and still haven't returned to pre-recession levels.
While wealthier countries have higher rates of depression, low-income people in those countries have the highest of them all. When asked by the Gallup pollsters, "Have you ever been told by a physician or nurse that you have any of the following ... depression?," 30 percent of Americans with annual incomes under $24,000 answered yes.
The rate was almost half that for middle-income Americans (annual salaries between $24,000 and $59,000), and at only 13 percent of Americans with incomes higher than $60,000. Some researchers say depression is tied to inequality -- the sense that you're on the bottom of a very high pyramid -- with one paper on the subject, published in BMC Medicine, saying it's possible that "depression is to some extent an illness of affluence."
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