America’s Saddest Workers


A recent study measured mental health on the job, drawing from insurance care records in Western Pennsylvania:

Looking at the chart above, the items in blue represent those industries in which depression is reported the least, while the ones in red report the most. So, people working in passenger transit, real estate, and social services are among the most affected by clinical depression, while those working in amusement/recreational services, oil and gas extraction (who knew?), and miscellaneous repair services are among the least affected.

According to the researchers, “Rates for clinical depression in 55 industries ranged from 6.9 to 16.2%, (population rate = 10.45%). Industries with the highest rates tended to be those which, on the national level, require frequent or difficult interactions with the public or clients, and have high levels of stress and low levels of physical activity.”

Neuroskeptic nods:

Which makes intuitive sense if you go with the idea that those are actually more depressing jobs, i.e. that they cause depression, rather than (a weaker claim) just being correlated with it or (weaker still) being correlated with people reporting it to their doctors.

However, is that true the world over or is it just a Westsylvania thing? It’s interesting to contrast this paper to one I blogged about in 2012. That study showed that, in the UK, blue collar occupations were amongst those with the highest rates of suicide, over the period of 2001-2005. Coal mining occupied the #1 spot in the British suicide rankings but in Western Pennsylvania, remember, coal miners had amongst the lowest rates of treated depression.