The Most Stressed-Out State in America Is Not the One You Would Expect

The beaches in Miami, the Key West resorts and Orlando's Walt Disney World may be ideal vacation destinations for many, but according to a new ranking, Florida's fun-loving atmosphere isn't doing much for its permanent residents.

Indeed, the Sunshine State is the most stressed-out state in the union, at least according to Movoto.com, a real estate brokerage blog known for its city-based research. Culling data from the U.S. Census' 2008–2012 American Community Survey, the site took into account six stress-inducing factors: unemployment rates, work hours, population density, income spent on housing, percentage of population with long commutes and the number of people without health insurance. The researchers then added up all the findings into a final "Big Deal Score" and interactive map.


Image Credit: Movoto.com

Florida's dubious honor seems due in large part to the state's high unemployment rate (11.3%) and the fact that more than 25% of inhabitants are still living without health insurance. Florida's neighbor Georgia came second on the list, where residents work the most hours on average among residents from any other states, and where the unemployment rate is also higher than the national average.

But Florida's high rank wasn't the only surprise: Another beach state with a fairly glamorous reputation didn't do well either. Unaffordable housing and the challenges of the job market contributed to Californians being ranked the fourth most stressed out. According to Movoto, people in the Golden State pay about 26% of their income on housing, a portion higher than any other state in the country except New Jersey. And California, where the real estate, hospitality and manufacturing sectors took a big hit during the recession, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.


New Jersey came in third on the list and New York was seventh, the bigger drawbacks in both states being overcrowding, long commutes and high cost of real estate. New York is actually the second worst in the country when it comes to travel time, after Maryland, where about 70% of the population spends more than 20 minutes commuting to work.

Wyoming, Louisiana and North Dakota are the three hardest-working states in terms of long hours, but they are all ranked notably low in terms of their overall stress scores. States with the shortest working hours are Utah, Oregon and Rhode Island. Unemployment is highest of all in Michigan, Nevada and Florida, and lowest in North Dakota, followed by South Dakota and Wyoming.

Oil-rich North Dakota, home to the most stress-free people in the country, did very well in five of the six categories, with top rankings in unemployment rate and work commute. At the launch of an $800,000 "Find the Good Life in North Dakota" campaign in the state capital few months back, officials said there are 25,000 more jobs than takers in all industries in North Dakota.

Maybe it's time to consider a move. 


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Smriti Sinha

Smriti is a multimedia journalist trained at the Columbia School of Journalism. Before moving to New York, she was a sports reporter at The Indian Express in New Delhi. She continues to cover issues in sports, women's and LGBT rights.

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