You, America, are way stressed out.
And you have a right to be, what with getting over the housing bubble, dealing with ever-longer commutes, and working longer and longer hours. But which states take being stressed to the next level?
It turns out the good people of Florida have earned the dubious distinction of being the most stressed out in the country. They are at the top of the pack of the 10 most stressed out states:
Finding that Florida tops this list adds a Saturday Night Scientific basis behind the @_FloridaMan twitter account.
How We Measured Stress (Without Stressing Out)
In order to measure stress, we selected a set of six criteria that reflect its root causes for most people and used them to look at the lower 48 states:
- Percentage of population with a long commute (over 20 minutes)
- Hours worked
- Population density
- Percentage of income spent on housing
- Percentage of population without health insurance
The higher any of these was, the more stressful the people of the state are.
Our data is from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey for 2008-2012.
We ranked each state from 1 to 48 (with one being the most stressed side of the scale) in the six individual criteria. These ranks were then averaged into one Big Deal Score, the lowest of which was the most stressed out state in America.
Below, we’ll take a look at the standout stress stats for each top 10 most stressed state, and wrap the whole thing up with a detailed ranking of all 48 we analyzed.
1. Florida: Unemployment And No Health Insurance Make For A Bad Combo
Apparently I was completely oblivious to all of the stressed out grown-ups around me worried that I’d be eaten by sharks. More likely, they worried about paying for the hospital bills after I was bitten by a shark.
Florida ranked as the third worst state when it came to both the percentage of the population without health insurance (25.8 percent) and unemployment rate (11.3 percent).
2. Georgia: Life Isn’t As Peachy As Georgians Would Like You To Think
That drive to keep working is probably out of the stress of losing a job. The unemployment rate for Georgia is in the top 20 percent of the 48 states we analyzed.
On a relatively high note, it’s pretty cheap to live in Georgia, so at least you don’t have to pay to be stressed out.
3. New Jersey: Someone’s Gonna Have To Leave, Capiche?
If you don’t want to live close to your neighbors, go out to the boonies in Pennsylvania. You don’t want to pay an extraordinarily large amount of money to have a residence in the state, you should start saving.
Because when New Jersey does something, even stress, it never half-asses it.
4. California Girls Know How To Pay Too Much For Housing
In actuality, you can’t afford to live by yourself in a nice part of town unless you’ve been working for eight years or you’re a superstar computer programmer. The proof is in the source code: Californians spend more of their income on housing (26 percent) than any other state besides NJ.
To make matters worst, California can’t even beat NJ on the housing cost front. Must be super stressful.
5. You Can Hit The Stress Jackpot In Nevada
The relative lack of work allows everyone in Nevada to enjoy their space. Their population density ranked in the bottom 20 percent, leaving plenty of room to hang out with the cows and cacti.
Or, you know, whatever it is that people do in Nevada…
6. Illinois’s Level Of Stress Comes From The Most Fundamental Stress Of All
But commutes are the worst. They consistently survey as the absolute worst part of your day because:
1. They are variable from one day to the next
2. You can literally do nothing in them besides listen to the radio
3. You’re going/coming from somewhere you’d much rather be
Illinois ranked fifth in commutes longer than 20 minutes with more than 61 percent of residents taking on such an arduous journey each day. That’s 61 percent of people just stuck smashing their horns with their foreheads on repeat. Every. Day.
7. New York Is “New Jersey Lite” When It Comes To Stress
1. Population density
2. Income spent on housing
It’s just that New Jersey scores way better on both categories. So here’s something NJ can always brag about to New York.
Enough about NJ superiority. New York specializes in having the second worst commute times in the country. That’s what happens when you build a giant moat around the most densely packed city in the county. It takes a while to get in and out.
8. Maryland: Where You Can Blame All Of Your Problems On D.C.
Maryland’s high level of population density (fifth highest) undoubtedly contributes to the commute problems. However, I’m pretty sure both of these stress inducing factors stem from Washington, D.C. Namely:
- Population Density: Why would anyone want to live in Maryland? It must be to be close to D.C.
- Commute: You have a ton of people trying to get into DC everyday from all over the state.
We could probably get Maryland to calm down a bit by moving the nation’s capital to where it should be: Hawaii.
9. North Carolina: Above Average Stress About Everything, Worried About Nothing
It scores kind of high on the number of people per square mile, but housing costs are below average. People work a bunch, but commutes aren’t the worst.
North Carolina to me is kind of like the Goldilocks of stressed states. She’s freaking stressed because she’s in a house owned by bears, but not stressed to the point where she’s not going to take a nap.
10. Arizona: The Kid Picked Last For This List And No One Knows How He Got Here
Arizona has none of those attributes and seems like a state that just minds its own business. I mean, sure, it’s like one million degrees all the time, the haboobs can kill you, and scorpions are waiting to end your life, but those weren’t the direct criteria we were measuring.
Arizona is basically a slightly less stressed version of North Carolina. The commutes are worse, but all the desert gives you a lot of space to breathe.
I Guess You Just Can’t Have It All…
So, if North Dakotans’ real stress is figuring out what to do with all this oil money floating in, I have a suggestion:
1. Go buy a house in Florida;
2. Build sand castles on the beach;
3. Play some shuffleboard;
4. And not freak out about sharks.