July 16, 2019

NOTE: Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, INRIX, Chmura Economics & Analytics, Indeed, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Renwood RealtyTrac, County Health Rankings, Zillow, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, TransUnion, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Council for Community and Economic Research, Gallup-Healthways, Numbeo, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Sharecare.

Stress is inevitable, at least for most people even those of us who are retired. Everyone experiences some type and level of stress over a normal day and certainly a lifetime.  Stress is not always a bad thing. Certain kinds of stress can have positive effects on a person’s well-being, at least in the right doses. According to Psychology Today, “A little bit of stress, known as ‘acute stress,’ can be exciting—it keeps us active and alert.”  Acute stress can be a motivator to get started and stop procrastination relative to your “to-do-list”.

When stress reaches an unmanageable level, however, it turns “chronic.” That’s when we become vulnerable to its damaging effects such as health problems and loss of productivity.  In the United States., stress affects more than one hundred (100)  million people. The leading causes? Money tops the list, followed by work, family and relationships. By one estimate, workplace-related stress alone costs society more than three hundred billion dollars ($300) per year.

To determine the cities where Americans cope best, WalletHub compared more than one hundred and eighty (180) cities across thirty-nine (39) key metrics. The data set ranges from average weekly work hours to debt load to divorce and suicide rates. Read on for our findings, expert insight and a full description of our methodology.


In order to determine the most and least stressed cities in America, WalletHub compared one hundred eighty-two (182) cities — including the one hundred and fifty (150) most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across four key dimensions: 1) Work Stress, 2) Financial Stress, 3) Family Stress, and 4) Health & Safety Stress.  The sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.

WalletHub evaluated the four dimensions using thirty-nine (39) relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a one hundred (100)-point scale, with a score of one hundred (100) representing the highest levels of stress.

Finally, they determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Work Stress – Total Points: 25

  • Average Weekly Work Hours: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Job Security: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the annual hours spent in congestion per auto commuter.
  • Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Underemployment Rate: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Share of Households where No Adults Work: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
  • Average Commute Time (in Minutes): Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
  • Income Growth: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
    Note: “Growth” compares income levels in 2017 versus in 2016.
  • Job Satisfaction Ranking: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on Indeed Job Happiness Index.

Financial Stress – Total Points: 25

  • Median Annual Household Income: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
  • Share of Households Behind on Bills in Past 12 Months: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Personal-Bankruptcy Rate: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Median Debt per Median Earnings: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Median Credit Score: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Poverty Rate: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Food Insecurity: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: Food Insecurity is the percentage of the population who did not have access to a reliable source of food during the past year.
  • Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Household Income.
  • Share of Mortgage Holders with Negative Equity: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the proportion of mortgage holders whose balance on mortgage is higher than the value of homes.

Family Stress – Total Points: 25

  • Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Share of Single Parent Households: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Median Duration of Current Marriage: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Strength of Social Ties: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on responses to Sharecare’s RealAge® Test and was used to indicate where relationships with family and friends are stronger, thus providing an upside to one’s social life and well-being.
  • Availability of Childcare Workers per Total Number of Children: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Child Care Cost: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
    Note: Monthly Cost of Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private for 1 Child (proxy for child care cost).

Health & Safety Stress – Total Points: 25

  • Share of Adults in Fair or Poor Health: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Share of Adults Who Could Not See a Doctor Because of Cost: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Share of Adults Diagnosed with Depression: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Mental Health: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of adults with 14 or more mentally unhealthy days reported in the past month.
  • Suicide Rate: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Share of Insured Population: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Share of Adult Binge Drinkers: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of adults consuming four or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion.
  • Share of Adult Smokers: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Physical-Activity Rate: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Share of Obese Residents: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Share of Adults with Inadequate Sleep: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours per night.
  • Well-Being Index: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Crime Rate: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
  • Hate-Crime Incidents per Capita: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)


CONCLUSIONS:  I was very surprised to find that my city, Chattanooga was forty on the list. Bums me out a little but the conclusions are right there.  I would invite you to take a look at WalletHub to see where your city ranks.  You may be stressed out and not know it.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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