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California among the five most stressed-out states in the nation

On June 9, real-estate blog Movoto released the results of a study that evaluated stress levels among US states
On June 9, real-estate blog Movoto released the results of a study that evaluated stress levels among US statesRobin Wulffson, MD

Do you feel stressed-out these days? If so, you are not alone. On June 9, real-estate blog Movoto released the results of a study that evaluated stress levels among US states. It used factors such as commuting times, housing prices, unemployment, lack of health insurance, and population density to measure stress levels among the states. California placed fourth among the top five—Florida came in first. All the states in the continental US were included in the analysis.

Part of the California dream is to own a nice house; however. That is out of reach more many. Californians spend more of their income on housing (26%) than any other state except New Jersey; in addition, housing costs are even higher than New Jersey. Not surprisingly, another stressor for Californians is long commuting times; 59% of residents endure a long commute. On the plus side, eight other states have longer commute times than the Golden State. Unemployment is a major problem throughout the US. California’s rate is 11%, placing the state in the number five slot. Despite the implementation of Obamacare and California Covered, many of the state’s residents are currently uninsured; 11.6% lack insurance, placing California at number seven.

Although California has a lot of wide open spaces—a trip from LA to Las Vegas will confirm that—California ranks eleven in population density. In only one area of the factors measured did California escape a position among the top 10. The average hours worked is 37.9, placing it at number 38. The other contenders for the top 10 stress positions are listed below.

Georgia placed number two. Georgians work longer hours on average than any of the residents in the other top 10. This may be in part due to the fear of losing a job. The unemployment rate for Georgia is in the top 20% of states in the continental US. On a brighter note, with its low housing prices, the state is an inexpensive one to live in. percent of the 48 states we analyzed.

New Jersey edged out California for the number three spot. The state has the highest population density in the nation. Crowding is a known stress factor. Another stressor is taxes, and New Jersey has super high property taxes.

California’s neighbor, Nevada, placed five. The state has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation—11.8%--behind Michigan’s 12.5%. Well, if you are an unemployed Nevadan, you have ample time to hit the casinos and make big bucks.

Illinois placed sixth. A major factor is commuting time. The survey found that commutes vary from day to day and the state ranked fifth in commutes longer than 20 minutes; more than 61% of residents have a bad commute on a daily basis. Think of Illinois when you are gridlocked on one of LA’s freeways.

New York was found to have stress problems similar to its neighbor, New Jersey: population density and percentage of income spent on housing. In addition, New York was found to have the second worst commute times in the nation.

Maryland had good scores in four of the six criteria measured; however, it was found to have the longest commute times in that nation: nearly 70% of the state’s residents spend longer than 20 minutes getting to work. I wonder where LA would stand, if it was considered to be a state. Another factor placing Maryland among the top 10 was population density—it is fifth highest in the nation.

I have always considered the South to be an area where the living is easy; however, North Carolina ranked ninth. This was due to population density and average hours worked per week. Compensating for that was low housing costs and short commuting times.

Another California neighbor, Arizona, made the top 10. It’s blistering hot in the summer and scorpion infestations can be a problem; however, these factors were not among the ones measured. Above average levels in most categories placed it at number 10. The evaluators deemed the state to be a slightly less stressed-out version of North Carolina. Commutes are worse than North Carolina; however, the state has a lot of wide open spaces.

If you are looking for a low stress area to live, consider America’s heartland. Despite its brutal winters (a factor not measured), North Dakota earned the distinction of being the least stressful state, behind Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

The complete report is available at this link.