Work Stress On The Rise: 8 In 10 Americans Are Stressed About Their Jobs, Survey Finds

04/10/2013 03:43 pm ET | Updated Apr 12, 2013
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Unemployment rates may have dropped in the U.S. as of late, but work stress is swiftly on the rise, according to a new report.

A new survey shows that more than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs. Poor pay and increasing workloads were top sources of concern reported by American workers.

The third annual Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, polled 1,019 employed Americans by phone. The results showed a marked increase from last year's survey, which found that 73 percent of Americans were stressed at work. This year, that number jumped to 83 percent. Only 17 percent of workers said that nothing about their jobs causes them stress.

“More companies are hiring, but workers are still weary and stressed out from years of a troubled economy that has brought about longer hours, layoffs and budget cuts," survey spokesman John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, said in a statement. "Americans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but anxiety among employees is rooted into our working lives, and it is important to understand new and better ways of coping with the pressure.”

Poor compensation and an unreasonable workload were tied as the No. 1 stressors, with 14 percent of workers reporting low paychecks as their main source of work-related stress. Fourteen percent also ranked a heavy workload as the top stressor -- up from 9 percent last year. These concerns were followed by frustration with coworkers or commutes (both 11 percent), working in a job that is not one's career of choice (8 percent), poor work-life balance (7 percent), lack of opportunity for advancement (6 percent) and fear of being fired or laid off (4 percent).

The gender wage gap also played a significant role in reported stress levels, with almost twice as many women (18 percent) as men (10 percent) citing low pay as their primary job-related stressor. The survey -- the release of which coincided with Equal Pay Day -- echoed recent findings from the National Partnership For Women And Families, which showed that the pay gap still exists in each of the 50 states. According to the NPWF study, the median yearly pay for full-time female workers is more than $11,000 less than their male counterparts.

In terms of age, the Baby Boomer generation and older Americans were the least likely to be affected by work stress, with 38 percent of American workers age 65 or older reporting that nothing about their job stresses them out -- significantly higher than any other age group.

These findings are consistent with the recent Stress in America survey, which showed that Americans over the age of 67 are the least stressed age bracket, with 29 percent saying that their stress levels increased in the past year.

The Stress in America survey also determined that millennials (ages 18 to 29) experience more stress than any other age group, which may be largely caused by work and job stability concerns. Wages have declined for young adults and half of recent college graduates are underemployed, working a job that does not require a college degree.

There's no doubt that these rising levels of job-related stress are taking a toll on American's health: Occupation stress increases the risk of heart attack, according to a 2012 University College London review of studies. Job stress can also accelerate the aging process and raise women's risk of diabetes, according to other 2012 studies.

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