Most Stressful Cities for Workers
Data reveals most stressful cities to work in
For most of us, work consumes the majority of our time.
Whether you run a small business or you’re employed full-time, your waking hours are probably consumed by either working, commuting, or thinking about work.
And while some have been lucky enough to find the ideal (but often elusive) work-life balance, others struggle with work-related stressors such as long hours and commutes, low wages as well as lack of income growth.
We took a deeper look at these factors as well as other metrics across more than 170 cities in order to determine the most stressful cities to work in.
- Texas cities dominate the list of most stressful places to work.
- Overall, the Lone Star State is home to 10 cities within our list of top 30.
- Cities with the longest commutes: New York City, New York (79.6 minutes roundtrip); Palmdale, California (71.8 minutes); Moreno Valley, California (68.2 minutes); Jersey City, New Jersey (68 minutes) and Santa Clarita, California (66.4 minutes).
Our analysis included eight weighted metrics, including average hours worked per week, average commute time, percentage of workers who commute before 7 a.m., percentage of workers who are not able to work remotely, single-income families, income growth rate, percentage of employees without health insurance and each city’s crime rate.
Each city within our analysis had a population of at least 150,000 or more.
Most stressful cities for workers
#1 Houston, Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the stress levels for workers.
According to our analysis, Texas cities dominate the list of most stressful places to work. Overall, the Lone Star State is home to 10 cities within our list of top 30. Three of those cities are ranked within the top five most stressful places to work.
Houston comes in at No. 1 on our list. Overall, workers in Houston clock in an average of 39.5 hours per week at work, which is above the national average of 38.7 hours. Houstonians also have an above average daily commute of 52.8 minutes roundtrip. One in three are on the road each morning before 7 a.m.
Along with long hours and commutes, many workers in Houston lack health insurance. The percentage of workers in Houston without health insurance (30.4%) is well above the national average (10.5%).
And when it comes to stressful financial factors, 46.6% of families in Houston are single-income families. Elsewhere, the income growth rate in Houston (4.5%) is below the national average (6.2%).
Workers in Houston also have limited flexibility in terms of remote work, according to Census Bureau data. Studies have shown that working remotely can reduce work-related stress, but only 15.6% of Houstonians work remotely, which is also below the national average (17.9%).
#2 Arlington, Texas
We head to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to find the second most stressful city for workers.
Arlington, Texas, which is located roughly 20 miles from Dallas ranks No. 2 due to its long average workweek (39.9 hours) and long commute (52.2 minutes roundtrip). Also, 29.5% of workers in Arlington start their commute before 7 a.m. each day. Nearly half (49.6%) of families in Arlington are single-income families, which is well above the national average (38.6%).
Elsewhere, the income growth rate in Arlington (3.4%) is nearly half of the national average (6.2%). These factors, combined with a low percentage of remote workers and high percentage of workers who lack health insurance led to Arlington being ranked at the No. 2 spot on our list.
#3 Dallas, Texas
Considering Dallas has one of the highest average workweeks, it’s probably no surprise why the city ranks so high on our list. Overall, workers in Dallas clock in an average of 40.2 hours per week, which is well above the national average of 38.7. Among the more than 170 cities within our analysis, Dallas ranks ninth for longest workweek.
Compared to Houston and Arlington, Dallas has a slightly lower average commute of 51.4 minutes roundtrip. Among commuters, one in three (30.8%) are on the road before 7 a.m. daily. Elsewhere, one-quarter work without health insurance, which is well above the national average (10.5%).
#4 Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is the first city on our list located outside of Texas, but the stress levels don’t improve much for those working in Memphis.
Overall, the average workweek in Memphis is 39 hours, which is above the national average. And workers in the city find themselves with an average commute time of 43 minutes roundtrip. Nearly one in three begin their commute before 7 a.m. in order to get to work.
Memphis is home to one of the highest percentages of single-income families (52.6%). In fact, the city ranks No. 11 for the most single-income families on the list of more than 170 cities within our analysis.
#5 Las Vegas, Nevada
With casinos open all day and all night, Sin City could easily be referred to as the “24/7 City.”
More than one-third (35%) of workers in Vegas and 44.3% of workers in North Las Vegas leave for work before 7 AM. In fact, nearly one-quarter (27%) of Vegas workers are on the road before 6:30 AM. Among workers in Vegas, 16.6% are employed without health insurance, which is above the national average of 10.5%. In nearby North Las Vegas, the number is slightly higher at 17%.
The income growth rate in Vegas (5.1%) is also trailing behind the national average (6.2%). It might be the Entertainment Capital of the World, but it’s certainly a stressful place for workers to keep it running, according to our analysis.
Least stressful cities for workers
Our analysis also took a look at the least stressful cities for workers. According to our ranking, Madison, Wisconsin tops the list for the least stressful city to work in. The average workweek (36.6 hours) is below the national average and the average roundtrip commute (37.4 minutes) is also far less than the national average (51.2).
Rounding out the top 10 least stressful cities are Fort Collins, Colorado (No. 2); Fremont, California (No. 3); Minneapolis, Minnesota (No. 4); Providence, Rhode Island (No. 5); Lincoln, Nebraska (No. 6); Portland, Oregon (No. 7); Seattle, Washington (No. 8); St. Paul, Minnesota (No. 9) and Boise, Idaho (No. 10).
Longest commutes in America
Regardless of where you work, stress can affect you both physically and mentally. It’s important to seek a work-life balance to avoid burnout and long-term health complications.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), taking frequent breaks throughout the workday, tracking your stressors in a journal, establishing boundaries between work and your personal life as well as developing healthy responses to work stressors are all ways to avoid work-related stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, listen to your body and take time to recharge. Even small breaks throughout the day can go a long way in helping to reduce work-related stress.
To determine our ranking, we analyzed more than 170 census-defined places with a population of 150,000 or more via the U.S. Census Bureau. We compared these cities across eight weighted variables: average hours worked per week, average commute time, percentage of workers who commute before 7 a.m., percentage of workers who are not able to work remotely, single-income families, income growth rate, percentage of employees without health insurance and each city’s crime rate. Data for single-income families included families who live with children under 18. The income growth rate was calculated via median household income from 2020-2021.
Each variable was graded on a 100-point scale. To determine an overall score, each city’s weighted average was calculated across all metrics.
- Average hours worked per week: 20 points
- Average commute time: 20 points
- Percentage of remote workers: 10 points
- Percentage of workers who start commuting before 7 a.m.: 10 points
- Percentage of single-income families with children under 18: 10 points
- Income growth rate (based on median household income): 10 points
Health and safety
- Percentage of employed workers without health insurance: 10 points
- Crime rate: 10 points
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, American Psychological Association, FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program
Fair Use: Feel free to use this data and research with proper attribution linking to this study.
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