The biggest source of stress for Americans in 2021 is money problems, according to a recent WalletHub survey. The COVID-19 pandemic, which took first place last year, has slipped to second, which makes sense considering the progress the U.S. has made with vaccination and reopening. Overall stress levels are not uniform across the country, though, and certain states worry more than others about specific issues.
WalletHub compared the 50 states across 41 key indicators of stress to determine the places to avoid and achieve a more relaxing life. Our data set ranges from average hours worked per week to the personal bankruptcy rate to the share of adults getting adequate sleep.
Most Stressed States
|Overall Rank (1=Most Stressed)||State||Total Score||Work-Related Stress||Money-Related Stress||Family-Related Stress||Health- & Safety-Related Stress|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the worst conditions for that metric category.
For the best ways to cope with negative stressors, we turned to a panel of experts. You can read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions below.
- What tips do you have for fighting stress without spending money?
- What steps can people take to reduce stressing over finances?
- Should insurance companies cover treatments that help reduce stress?
- What tips do you have for parents trying to minimize stress in their children?
- What can people do to address the financial stress caused by the pandemic?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the most and least stressed states, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across four key dimensions: 1) Work-Related Stress, 2) Money-Related Stress, 3) Family-Related Stress, 4) Health- & Safety-Related Stress.
We evaluated those dimensions using 41 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the highest level of stress.
We then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states.
Work-Related Stress – Total Points: 25
- Average Hours Worked per Week: Double Weight (~5.26 Points)
- Average Commute Time: Half Weight (~1.32 Points)
- Average Leisure Time Spent per Day: Full Weight (~2.63 Points)
- Job Security: Full Weight (~2.63 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Double Weight (~5.26 Points)
- Underemployment Rate: Full Weight (~2.63 Points)
- Income Growth Rate (2019 vs. 2018): Double Weight (~5.26 Points)
Money-Related Stress – Total Points: 25
- Median Income: Double Weight (~3.57 Points)
Note: Adjusted for cost of living.
- Debt per Median Earnings: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Median Credit Score: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Personal Bankruptcy Rate: Double Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Adults Worried about Money: Double Weight (~3.57 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of state residents who report having worried about money in the last seven days.
- Economic Confidence Index: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Notes: Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on state residents' views of economic conditions in the U.S. today, and whether they think economic conditions in the country are getting better or getting worse.
- Share of People Unable to Save for Children’s College: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Share of Adults Paying Only Minimum on Credit Card(s): Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Share of Population Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Housing Affordability: Double Weight (~3.57 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Household Income.
Family-Related Stress – Total Points: 25
- Separation and Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
- Share of Single Parents: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
- Cost of Childcare: Triple Weight (~8.33 Points)
Note: Adjusted for median household income.
- “Parental-Leave Policy” Score: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
- Parental Stress: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Note: This composite metric considers the percentage of parents who felt angry with their child, felt the child does things to bother them or felt the child is difficult to care for.
- Share of Parents Without Emotional Support: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of parents who do not have someone they can turn to for day-to-day emotional support with parenting or raising children.
- Share of Parents Who Changed /Quit Jobs Due to Problems with Child Care: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Health- & Safety-Related Stress – Total Points: 25
- WalletHub’s “States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions” Score: Quadruple Weight (~4.26 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions” ranking.
- Share of Adults in Fair or Poor Health: Double Weight (~2.13 Points)
- Share of Adults Diagnosed with Depression: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
- Mental Health: Double Weight (~2.13 Points)
- Suicide Rate: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
- Unaffordability of Doctor Visits: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
Note: Measures percentage of adults aged 18 and older who reported not seeing a doctor in the past 12 months due to cost.
- Share of Parents Frustrated in Efforts to Get Health Services for Their Child: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of parents frustrated in their efforts to get health services for their child in the past 12 months.
- Increase in Annual Health Insurance Premiums: Double Weight (~2.13 Points)
- Share of Insured Population: Double Weight (~2.13 Points)
Note: “Population” includes noninstitutionalized civilians aged 16 and older.
- Psychologists per Capita: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
- Physical Activity Rate: Half Weight (~0.53 Points)
- Share of Adults Getting Adequate Sleep: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
Note: Measures percentage of adults aged 18 and older who reported getting seven or more hours of sleep per 24-hour period.
- Bullying Incidents Rate: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
Note: Measures both the percentage of high school students who were bullied on school property and the percentage of high school students who were bullied electronically/online.
- Crime Rate per Capita: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
- Hate-Crime Incidents per Capita: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
- Well-Being Index: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
- Quality of Infrastructure: Full Weight (~1.06 Points)
Note: “Infrastructure” refers to roads and bridges.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FINRA Investor Education Foundation, United Health Foundation, Council for Community and Economic Research, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, TransUnion, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Child Care Aware of America, National Partnership for Women & Families, Gallup-Healthways, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kaiser Family Foundation, The Road Information Program and WalletHub research.