Special Report

15 Most Stressed Out Cities

Source: Fan of Retail / Wikimedia Commons

5. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH
> Pct. with stress: 48.2%
> Pct. of adults in fair/poor health: 20.8%
> Poverty rate: 20.1%
> Avg. weekly hours worked: 33.7

Regular stress can lead to serious health problems, which in turn can hinder daily activity, further adding to stress. In Huntington-Ashland, 20.8% of adults report fair or poor health, well above the 15.0% of adults nationwide who report such sub-optimal levels of health. Nearly 40% of residents report high blood pressure, and nearly 30% report having experienced depression — the third highest and highest such rates of all metro areas reviewed. These two conditions are commonly tied to stress.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Lincoln, NE
> Pct. with stress: 48.8%
> Pct. of adults in fair/poor health: 9.8%
> Poverty rate: 13.7%
> Avg. weekly hours worked: 33.9

Several stress-related conditions are not nearly as prevalent in Lincoln as might be expected in one of the nation’s most stressed out cities. The percentage of adults reporting fair or poor health, for example, is less than 10%, one of the lowest such shares nationwide. Similarly, while a long commute time is frequently a major factor in high daily stress levels, the average Lincoln commuter travels 18.5 minutes a day, well below the national average of 26.4 minutes.

Like a number of other high stress cities, Lincoln is home to a major university, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and 12.9% of residents are enrolled in postsecondary institutions. Nationwide, just over 7% of people are university students. Because stress is relatively common among college students, the large student population could help explain stress levels in the city.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Boulder, CO
> Pct. with stress: 48.8%
> Pct. of adults in fair/poor health: 10.8%
> Poverty rate: 12.9%
> Avg. weekly hours worked: 33.8

College students can face a myriad of stressors as they balance course work, part time jobs, and uncertainty about their future. Boulder is one of the biggest college towns in America, with 13.8% of metro area residents enrolled in college or graduate school, close to double the national average share. Many of those students are likely among the 48.8% of Boulder residents who report feeling regularly stressed.

Money is another major source of stress in the United States. While the annual median income in Boulder is $16,000 higher than it is nationwide, the area’s cost of living can make budgeting difficult. Nearly 50% of renters in the area spend a larger than recommended percentage of income on housing, compared to only 41.4% of renters nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Provo-Orem, UT
> Pct. with stress: 50.1%
> Pct. of adults in fair/poor health: 11.3%
> Poverty rate: 12.6%
> Avg. weekly hours worked: 33.9

The Provo-Orem metro area is one of only two U.S. cities where just over half of all adults report regular stress. It is also one of three Utah metro areas to rank among the most stressed in the country.

Like the majority of metro areas with large shares of residents reporting stress, Provo-Orem is home to a large share of college and graduate students, who often report higher levels of stress than other Americans. Of metro area residents, 11.8% are enrolled in postsecondary school, well above the 7.0% national share. Provo is home to Brigham Young University, one of the largest private institutions in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Chico, CA
> Pct. with stress: 50.7%
> Pct. of adults in fair/poor health: 16.4%
> Poverty rate: 21.8%
> Avg. weekly hours worked: 32.5

Divorce is often a stressful ordeal. According to Gallup-Healthways, daily reported stress is less common among married Americans than non-married individuals, and jumps significantly among Americans who have been separated. A relatively large share of adults in Chico have been through a divorce. Of metro area men 15 and older, 11.0% are divorced. The rate is an even higher for women at 15.0%. Nationwide, 9.7% of men and 12.3% of women are divorced.

Money is also a major source of stress across the nation, and many in Chico face serious financial hardship. Nearly 22% of the population lives in poverty, one of the largest such shares in the country and well above the 14.7% national poverty rate.