Survey Reveals 77% of Americans Stressed About Something at Work

Everest Study Looks at Worker Angst for National Stress Awareness Month, Finds Low Pay at Top of List; Commute, Annoying Co-Workers Not Far Behind

Mar 30, 2011, 11:00 ET from Everest College

LOS ANGELES, March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- From paltry paychecks to annoying coworkers, more than three quarters of Americans are stressing out about something related to their job, according to data released today in the 2011 Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College.

The survey of nearly 1,000 adults found that a majority of Americans (77%) are stressed by at least one thing at work. Overall, 14% of adults ranked low pay as the most stressful aspect, followed by commuting (11%), unreasonable workload (9%) and fear of being fired or laid off (9%).  Annoying coworkers ranked in the middle (8%), followed by the boss (5%), poor work-life balance (5%) and lack of opportunity for advancement (4%).

"We've seen numerous surveys that confirm workplace stress has increased during the last several years, and this time we wanted to rank from top to bottom some of the root causes," said Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development for Everest College. "Most employers are becoming well aware of the need to address rising employee stress, and those who don't address it are likely to suffer lower morale and productivity."

The survey was conducted to coincide with April's National 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.

"The impact of stress cannot be overstated," said Davis K. Brimberg, a Los Angeles-based psychologist who focuses on workplace issues.  "Almost all psychological problems are worsened by it.  People of all occupations and income levels are greatly affected. Counseling can be very helpful in relieving signs and symptoms of stress-related issues."

Anxiety Runs High Among Young Adults

The survey found that workplace anxiety levels are high among young adults ages 18-34. The age group ranked low pay (18%) and annoying coworkers (11%) as the top two stress factors.  Other key stressors include commuting (9%) and fear of being fired (9%).  

Similar to other Americans, 13% of college graduates ranked losing their job as the biggest stressor, followed by unreasonable workload (12%) and low pay (11%).

"There have been some positive signs in the labor market regarding employment recently, but the wheels of recovery are moving slowly," Cullen said. "Instability will be something that Americans will have to live with, making career preparation even more vital in the decade ahead.  

"One change we are seeing is that more and more Americans are pursuing careers in industries like healthcare, which offers more long-term stability."

Top Careers For Stability

The following occupations will continue to see high demand through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Legal and Accounting Administrative Assistant
  • Network Systems Administration
  • Dental Assistant

By the Numbers: 2011 Work Stress Survey Fast Facts

  • While 77% of Americans said at least one thing is stressful about their jobs, 21% said nothing stresses them out about their jobs. At the same time, married people are less stressed (24%) when compared with singles (14%).
  • Low pay is the most stressful aspect of the job for every region of the country except the Midwest, where fear of being fired or laid off ranks first at 13%. Only 6% of Midwesterners ranked low pay as the most stressful aspect of their job, compared with approximately 16% of those who live in the Northeast, South and West.

About the Survey

Everest College's 2011 Work Stress Survey was conducted by Harris Interactive using the Harris Poll National Quorum from Feb. 9 to Feb. 20, 2011. A total of 953 employed U.S. adults (aged 18 and over) were surveyed by telephone. Results are considered accurate +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.

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, bachelor's and master's degrees in a variety of high-demand occupational areas, including healthcare, transportation technology and maintenance, criminal justice, business, information technology and construction trades. Programs vary by campus. For more information, please visit

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

EDITOR'S NOTE: Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development for Everest College, and psychologist Davis K. Brimberg are available for interviews to discuss the survey.  To schedule an interview or for more information on the 2011 Work Stress Survey, please contact Ron Neal or George Medici at PondelWilkinson Inc.: Tel: 310-279-5980; Email: and/or

SOURCE Everest College