Updated May 20, 2019

Stress Statistics: How Money and Work Issues Are Taking a Toll

Americans are under a lot of pressure. It's particularly evident in the younger generations. Less financially stable than older workers were at their age, Gen Xers and Millennials are bearing the brunt of the stress. This time around, though, we're all more aware of ways to ease our stress; we just need to take time out to do it.

Research has shown that those who put in the time to eat right, exercise, and enjoy some downtime experience improved mental and physical health. Read on to learn more about sources of stress and successful coping mechanisms.

Overview of Stress in the U.S.

  • 43% of women and 33% of men said their stress has increased in the past five years.
  • 31% of people with high stress never discuss the issue with their health care provider.
  • 3.6 on a 10-point sale is what Americans define as a healthy stress level, but 4.9 is what the average person experiences.
  • 20% of people reported their stress at an 8, 9, or 10.

Top 5 Sources of Stress for All Ages

  1. Money
  2. Work
  3. The economy
  4. Family responsibilities
  5. Relationships

Top Causes of Stress by Generation

  • Mature: Personal and family health problems
  • Boomer: Work and family health issues
  • Gen X: Money and work
  • Millennial: Money and work

Children vs. Parents

  • 69% of parents said their stress has little to no impact on their children.
  • 91% of children said they know when their parents are stressed.
  • One-third of children believe their parents are always or often worried about things.
  • 40% of children said they feel sad when their parents are stressed or worried.

On a Positive Note

  • 37% of Americans believe they are doing a good job managing stress.
  • 35% are doing an excellent or very good job eating healthy.
  • 33% are doing an excellent or very good job being physically active.

Top 10 Methods of Dealing with Stress

  1. Listen to music
  2. Exercise or walk
  3. Spend time with friends & family
  4. Read
  5. Watch television or movies
  6. Pray
  7. Play games or surf the Net
  8. Nap
  9. Spend time on a hobby
  10. Eat

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

  • 42% of Americans reported lying awake when they are stressed.
  • 36% overeat or eat unhealthy foods.
  • 27% skip meals.
  • 13% drink alcohol.
  • 13% smoke.

On the Job

"Job stress" is defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.

  • 40% of workers feel their job is very or extremely stressful.
  • One-fourth of employees view their job as the number one stressor in their lives.
  • Three-fourths of employees believe workers have more on-the-job stress than they did a generation ago.
  • Work problems are more often associated with health issues than other stressors, including family or financial problems.
  • 23 days is the average time an employee takes off work because of stress.
  • 31 or more days were lost in more than 40% of these cases.

Most Stressful Industries

  1. Services
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Retail trade
  4. Finance, insurance, and real estate
  5. Transportation and utilities
  6. Wholesale trade

Stressful Occupations

  • Technical, sales, and administration support
  • Managerial and professional
  • Bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks
  • Supervisors, proprietors, and sales
  • Investigators and adjusters (excluding insurance)

Job Conditions Leading to Stress

  • Management style
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Work roles
  • Career concerns
  • Work environment

Health and Job Stress

Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers reporting high levels of stress. Common warning signs:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Low morale

Studies suggest the link between excessive job stress and the following health issues:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Psychological disorders
  • Workplace injuries
  • Suicide
  • Cancer
  • Ulcers
  • Impaired immune function

Happy Employers = More Money

Studies show that stressful conditions affect the bottom line and are associated with:

  • Absenteeism
  • Tardiness

For example, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company conducted several studies on the effects of stress prevention programs in hospitals. Among the findings:

  • 50% fewer medication errors
  • 70% reduction in malpractice claims


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