Low Pay, Commute Top Reasons 80% of Americans Stressed at Work

Everest College's Fourth Annual Survey Finds Workplace Anxiety Levels Remain High When Compared to 2013; Disparities in Income, Education Play Major Role in What Stresses Workers Out

LOS ANGELES, April 9, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Small paychecks and long commutes are delivering a one-two punch to American workers, as eight in 10 employed adults say they are stressed out on the job, according to data released today in the 2014 Work Stress Survey conducted by Nielsen (formerly Harris Interactive) on behalf of Everest College.

The telephone survey of 1,004 employed adults found that 80 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing at work, showing negligible improvement over 2013 (83%). The survey was conducted to coincide with April's Stress Awareness Month, when health care professionals across the country join forces to increase public awareness about the causes and cures for the modern stress epidemic.

For the fourth consecutive year, paltry paychecks were a top stressor, with 13 percent of adults ranking low wages as the most stressful aspect of work. Low pay shared the top spot with Americans' commute to and from work, which jumped to 13 percent from 11 percent in 2012 and 9 percent in 2011, respectively. Unreasonable workload (12%) finished third as the one thing that stresses Americans the most at work, followed by annoying coworkers (10%), poor work-life balance (8%) working in a job that is not a chosen career (6%), lack of opportunity for advancement (5%), the boss (5%), and fear of being fired or laid off (4%).

"When it comes to stress at the workplace, low pay and a long commute is a double whammy for American workers, especially for those who are experiencing both at the same time," said Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development for Everest College. "I don't think you can ever eliminate all the factors that cause workplace anxiety, but as individuals we can definitely create a plan of action to improve our careers and change our lives."

Income, Education Play Key Role in Defining Top Stressors

When determining workplace stress, levels of income and education play a significant role in determining the top stressors, according to the survey. Low pay is most often cited among those with household incomes of under $50,000 and those with less than college educations. The highest earners and those with at least college educations, however, are more likely to cite unreasonable workload and poor work-life balance.

Meanwhile, men and women appear to be closer than previous years in agreeing on the top stress factor at work. In previous years, women were significantly more likely to say low pay was their main workplace stressor, however, the responses given between the two groups narrowed this year, with 14 percent of women choosing low pay compared with 11 percent of men. Last year, women selected low pay as the most stressful aspect of their job at nearly twice the rate of men (18% to 10%).

Regionally, 86 percent of survey respondents in the Northeast said something in the workplace stresses them out compared with 75 percent of Americans in the West. Low pay was the No. 1 reason by a high margin in the Northeast (17%) when compared with the West (11%). At the same time, annoying coworkers ranked significantly higher in the Midwest (15%) than in the West (8%) and South (7%).

"Work occupies a large portion of our lives, so keeping workplace stress in check is an absolute necessity in maintaining overall wellness," Cullen said. "Having a stable, satisfying career with good pay and plenty of job security is paramount for any worker, which is why education and training are more important than ever.                                                 

"A recent Pew Research Center study shed light on how income and education go hand in hand, and at Everest College, we are committed to putting students first, from class to career, with numerous higher education options and training programs for in-demand industries that are vital to the economy."

Top Careers for Growth

According to a 2013 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations related to health care are projected to add the most new jobs between 2012 and 2022, with total employment projected to increase nearly 11 percent or 15.6 million during the decade. According to the report, occupations that typically require post-secondary education for entry are expected, on average, to grow faster than occupations that require a high school diploma or less. Some of these health care careers include:

  • Medical assistants
  • Personal care aides
  • Dental assistants
  • Medical secretaries
  • Physician therapist aides

By the Numbers: 2014 Work Stress Survey Fast Facts

  • While 80 percent of Americans said at least one thing is stressful about their jobs, 18 percent said nothing stresses them out about their jobs
  • American workers 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to say there is nothing about their job that stresses them out (50%)

About the Survey

Everest College's 2014 Work Stress Survey was conducted by telephone within the United States by Nielsen between Feb. 20 and March 2, 2014 among 1,004 employed U.S. adults ages 18+. Results were weighted for age, sex, geographic region, and race when necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

About Everest College

Everest College is part of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the largest post-secondary education companies in North America. Its mission is to prepare students for careers in demand or for advancement in their chosen field. It offers diploma programs and associate and bachelor's degrees in a variety of occupational areas, including health care, criminal justice, business, information technology and construction trades. Programs vary by campus. For more information, please visit www.everest.edu. For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program and other important information, please visit our website at www.everest.edu/disclosures.

About Nielsen

On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and the Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE:NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development at Everest College, is available for interviews to discuss the survey. To schedule an interview or for more information on the 2014 Work Stress Survey, please contact Ron Neal or Keemia Ferasat at PondelWilkinson Inc.: Tel: 310-279-5980; Email: rneal@pondel.com and/or kferasat@pondel.com