People around the world have spent the past year coming to terms with the dramatic life changes foisted upon them by COVID-19. By no means do all these changes have to do with actually getting sick. Rising poverty levels and unemployment, as well as safety concerns around commuting, are among the many additional factors that lead to increased stress levels.
According to estimates for 2020 by the Urban Institute, the percentage of Americans living in poverty has reached 12.4% (without benefit of stimulus checks, the SNAP program or unemployment benefit increases). The level is 20.5% for African Americans. The overall poverty rate in 2019, in comparison, was 10.5%. (Here is how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected minority communities in every state.)
As of January of this year, “The labor market continued to reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” according to a report on the current employment situation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the unemployment rate fell slightly as of the beginning of the year, it still stands at 6.3%. That compares to 3.5% in 2019, the lowest rate since 1969.
The situation is worse in some places than in others. It may come as no surprise that New York is the country’s most stressed-out city, but the fact that six of the 10 most stressed are in supposedly laid-back California might be food for thought. Every state, however, suffers from the same problems, to a greater or lesser extent.
New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania is America’s most stressed out. Note that it has a poverty rate of 11.6%, which ranks it at 247 out of 383 cities. The unemployment rate (as of August 2020) is 12.9%, the 10th highest. And the average commute time is 38 minutes, which is second out of 383.