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Low pay and commuting cited as top job stressors

Employment: Workers are still feeling crunch of an unstable job market

Posted: March 31, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 31, 2011 1:55 a.m.

More than three-quarters of Americans report feeling stressed about something related to their job. Low pay and commuting ranked highest on the list of stressors for American workers.

 

More than three-quarters of Americans report feeling stressed about something related to their job, according to a recent study conducted by Everest College’s 2011 Work Stress Survey.

The survey results are being released to coincide with April’s National Stress Awareness Month. During April, health care professionals nationwide work to increase public awareness about the causes and cures for modern stress.

The survey found that a majority of employees feel stressed by at least one thing at work. Fourteen percent of respondents ranked low pay as the most stressful part. Another 11 percent reported commuting as the most stressful aspect.

The number of local residents who need to commute outside the valley for employment has been one of the focuses of the city of Santa Clarita’s One Valley, One Vision plan, which calls for creating two jobs for every household.

It has also led the city to work with developers to build more mixed-used communities, as opposed to filling open land with homes only.

Nine percent of the adults surveyed cited an unreasonable workload or fear of being laid off as workplace stressors.
Annoying coworkers stressed 8 percent of the responders; bosses stressed 5 percent; and a lack of opportunity for advancement was a stress-inducer for 4 percent of the responders.

“We’ve seen numerous surveys that confirm workplace stress has increased during the last several years,” said Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development for Everest College. “This time we wanted to rank from top to bottom some of the root causes.”

Almost all psychological problems are worsened by the impact of stress, said Davis K. Brimberg, a Los Angeles-based psychologist who focuses on workplace issues.

“People of all occupations and income levels are greatly affected,” Brimberg said.

Low pay being the most stressful aspect of the job was reported for every region of the country except the Midwest, where fear of being fired or laid off ranked first, at 13 percent.

Only 6 percent of Midwesterners ranked low pay as the most stressful aspect of their job, compared with about 16 percent of those who live in the Northeast, South and West.

Young adults — age 18 to 34 — reported higher levels of stresses related to pay, with 18 percent responding that low pay was the single greatest work-related stress.

While the recession has not been a friend of many workers, the findings of low pay being a stress factor for young adults more likely reflect the fact that younger workers entering the workforce are just beginning to build careers.

And locally, affordable housing has been an issue, with average rents being comparable to those in the Burbank and North Glendale areas.

The average monthly rental was $1,428 during the fourth quarter of 2010, according the city of Santa Clarita’s economic snapshot report released Tuesday.

Local rents are lower than those in the Los Angeles metro area by a few dollars and below those found in a comparable community, such as the city of Pasadena, but the SCV region is boxed in by mountain passes and foothills, making for longer commutes from neighboring cities.

Work-related stress seemed to be greater among college graduates. Thirteen percent of this group expressed a greater fear of losing their jobs. The group also reported that an unreasonable workload and low pay, 12 and 11 percent respectively, were the next biggest stressors.

“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.

“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 work-stress study was conducted for the Everest College by Harris Interactive from Feb. 9 through Feb. 20. Participants over the age of 18 were surveyed by phone. Harris said the results had an accuracy rating of 19 out of 20 respondents with a possible error ratio of 3.2 percent.

jadkins@the-signal.com

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