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The American workforce: Which industries are the least stressful for employees?

Rebecca Barnabi
(© Zoran Zeremski – stock.adobe.com)

Each work industry in the United States has a level of its own stress, but some are less stressful than others.

Experts at TRĒ House analyzed 26 different factors, including wages, hours worked and paid sick leave to compile a list of the least stressful industries in the U.S. The list was put into an index and each industry was given a score out of 100. The higher the score, the less stressful the industry.

Utilities is the least stressful industry, followed by securities, commodities and other financial-related activities, public administration, then education services. Transportation is among the least stressful.

“This study shows there are many factors to consider when stress is involved. Some of these industries might look easy on the surface but the inner workings and compensation for employees could lead to a much more stressful environment,” Jameson Rodgers, a spokesperson for TRĒ House said of the findings.

Rodgers added that out of the 71 industries studied, 25 had more than 10 percent of employees working second jobs, and all had more than 30 percent of employees worried about paying medical bills.

“Breaks are not mandated in the U.S. for workers but are instead up to the employer. Research from the association of psychological science has shown that having adequate breaks and rest periods of 10 minutes per hour worked can increase productivity in employees,” Rodgers said.

Utilities scored 66.00 out of 100 for the least stressful industry. Sixty-four percent of employees reported an hourly wage, which creates a disadvantage when it comes to taking time off. The average amount of sleep for someone working in utilities is 7.16 hours, and the average amount of cigarettes smoked in this industry is 13.9 per day.

With a score of 65.22 out of 100, securities, commodities and other financial-related activities rank as the second least stressful industry. Twenty-nine percent reported satisfaction with their healthcare options and in the industry, 5.4 percent reported taking medication for anxiety or depression.

Public administration closely follows in third with a score of 61.30 out of 100. Nearly 38 percent of the industry report that they are worried about paying medical bills while 48 percent report being unable to pay medical bills at all.  The data also shows that only 11.2 percent of this industry have a second job.

Education services rank fourth with a score of 60.13 out of 100. More than 35 percent report being paid hourly due to the inclusion of substitute teachers and admin staff. The industry also reports that 38.4 percent are unable to pay medical bills.

Information services and data processing follows with 60.13 out of 100. Paid sick leave is available to 83.6 percent and 25 percent of the industry report they cannot pay medical bills. Only 6.5 percent report they have a second job.

Mining is fifth with 59.89 out of 100. Paid hourly instead of monthly are 77.6 percent of employees and 75 percent are unable to pay medical bills. The industry works on average 51 hours per week, the longest working hours in the list.

Publishing ranks sixth with 59.73 out of 100. Publishing as an industry reported that 12.3 percent have a second job.

Tenth on the list is transportation equipment with 58.62 out of 100. More than 65 percent of the industry is paid hourly and 77.3 percent report that paid sick leave is available.

A common link between all industries in the list is the stress and worry over not being able to pay medical bills or earning an hourly wage. Medical bills can lead to personal debt for decades and hourly pay results in employees not feeling able to take time off if they are ill. Robust support, such as better insurance coverage or salaried pay, would enable employees to feel less stressed and give peace of mind.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.