The Most Financially Stressed Cities and States


Financial stress affects 48 percent of the US workforce, according to a recent survey of more than 10,000 Americans by Salary Finance, the leading global provider of financial education and salary-linked savings and loans for employees. This stress is particularly concentrated in the West Coast, Appalachia and the Great Plains, where more than half of American workers experience financial stress.

According to the survey, money worries have a devastating impact on Americans’ mental health; employees under financial stress are over three times more likely to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and four times more likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Women particularly suffer; 56 percent of working women are stressed about their finances and 63 percent feel they do not earn enough to save.

Top 10 Cities with the Most Financial Worries

  1. Denver, CO (55%)
  2. Sacramento, CA (55%)
  3. Dallas, TX (54%)
  4. San Francisco, CA (53%)
  5. Tampa, FL (52%)
  6. Miami, FL (52%)
  7. Oklahoma City, OK (51%)
  8. Pittsburgh, PA (50%)
  9. Los Angeles, CA (49%)
  10. San Diego, CA (48%)

Top 10 States with the Most Financial Worries

  1. Colorado (54%)
  2. Texas (51%)
  3. Florida (51%)
  4. California (50%)
  5. Tennessee (50%)
  6. Kentucky (50%)
  7. West Virginia (50%)
  8. Indiana (50%)
  9. Washington (48%)
  10. Oregon (48%)

It is conventional wisdom that only those with low incomes live paycheck to paycheck. While lower average incomes in some of the worst-impacted regions might seem like a ready culprit for financial stress, the survey indicated that income is not an indicator of financial wellness; 40 percent of Americans earning more than $100,000 per year are financially unstable, with less than three months’ savings. This study reveals that one in four Americans living paycheck to paycheck with no savings earns over $160,000.

The survey revealed financial stress also impacts employees’ work performance; 22 percent of stressed employees cannot finish daily tasks and 24 percent have troubled relationships with coworkers. Employees with money worries lose nearly one month of productive work days per year and are over two times more likely to be seeking a new job. Combined, these factors cost American businesses $500 billion per year and 11-14 percent of payroll expenses.

Employers could have a role in reducing financial stress; according to the survey, 79 percent of employees trust their employers with their financial information and 68 percent feel their employer cares about them and their wellness. Offering financial wellness benefits such as salary-linked loans reduces employee turnover, according to a recent Harvard study. More than 70 percent of employees who take out a loan use it for debt consolidation.

“Failing financial wellness is an alarming national trend with severe health and business costs, not only for the worst-impacted regions but across the entire country,” said Daniel Macklin, Salary Finance US CEO. “Debt is the leading cause of financial stress, so financial education and debt consolidation and reduction programs are the best place to start for employers looking to reduce their employees’ financial stress and improve ROI.”

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