Health >> Stress >> Income, Education, Employment

Stress was highest among adults who were unemployed or unable to work.

People experience stress in response to challenges in everyday life. Sometimes stress can help us get things done. But long-term stress can increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and other problems by “turning on” biological stress responses too often and for too long.

Based on their responses to 4 questions about how often they had experienced selected symptoms of stress in the past 30 days, “perceived stress” scores on a scale from 4 (low) to 20 (high) were computed for King County adults. In 2011, King County adults had an average stress score of 8.6.

  • Adults with household income of $65,000 or more reported less stress than those with incomes below $65,000.
  • Stress scores gradually decreased as income went up.
  • College graduates had lower stress scores than adults with only some college education, but reported the same level of stress as adults with a high school education or less.
  • Adults who were unemployed or unable to work experienced more stress than those who were employed or out of the labor force (students, homemakers, or retired).