It’s no secret these last few years have been difficult. With a global pandemic, financial stressors due to inflation, and even political upheaval, it’s been hard to maintain a semblance of normalcy. While people want to focus on self-care, many are just struggling to make it through the day-to-day pressures of work (Hence, all the quiet quitting!).
So, we wanted to determine where Americans are struggling to find a work-life balance. We studied the 100 most populous cities in the United States, gathering data about work ethic, income, employment of self-care professionals, crime rate, and weather. From there, we conducted a weighted analysis to find out America’s hardest-working cities along with the best places to go find a bit of rest and rejuvenation.
Cities with the Best & Worst Work-Life Balance
The top place we would not recommend for a good work-life balance is Memphis! The city ranked the worst across all 100 populous cities. Not far behind it was Detroit (2nd), Houston (3rd), Baltimore (4th), and St. Louis (5th). Compared to the most laid-back cities, the top cities struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance were mainly located in the Midwest (4 states) and the South (5 states).
Most of these cities recorded lengthy travel times to work (more than 20 minute commutes). In Chicago, it takes people about 35 minutes to get to the office, and, as we all know, traffic is definitely not relaxing. While most of the hardest-working cities did report working less than 40 hours a week, Dallas clocked in at more than 40 hours.
Despite putting in all those hours on the job, the median household income ranged from $53,600 (Houston) to just $32,498 (Detroit) of the top 5 hardest-working cities. Among the top 10 there were also high violent crime rates. The highest rate was in Chicago, which reported 25,532 acts of violence in just one year.
Top Relaxed Cities with the Best Balance
The best city for work-life balance in America is Irvine, California. Aside from having beautifully sunny and consistently perfect California weather, the city is less than a 30 minute drive from Laguna and Newport Beach. The median household income is more than $108,000, which gives families money to put toward treating themselves. On top of that, most people spend around 38 hours working each week, which means two more hours of beach time. Not bad!
Irvine was one of three California cities to rank in the top 10. Fremont ranked 4th and Chula Vista came in 8th. It appears that if you want a getaway, you should head West. 9 of the 10 top cities when it comes to work-life balance were out there including 3 from Arizona (Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler).
The only outlier was Madison, Wisconsin. While the home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has brutal winter weather, people make the most of it by kicking back and relaxing by the fireplace. The average hours people work weekly in Madison is just 36 hours! Many people also have a less than 10 minute commute to work, and very little crime to worry about. FBI data shows Madison had only 16 violent crime offenses in 2019.
Everyone knows work and stress go hand-in-hand, and stress can do a lot of things to our bodies if it’s not managed correctly. It can lead to hair loss, muscle tension or pain, sleep problems and even fatigue. A lot of times it’s hard to relax without some assistance. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we figured out which states have the most self-care professionals on average per capita. We looked at jobs including massage therapists, skincare specialists, acupuncturists, hair stylists, and cosmetologists.
The state with the most self-care professionals per capita is Colorado followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington and Minnesota. As for the states with the least, they once again were mainly in the South. Those states included New Mexico, Kentucky, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Michigan.
If you find yourself getting stressed, give yourself some grace. It’s been a long few years, and self-care should be a priority for yourself and others! Pay attention to your body, and remember to take it easy and don’t overwork yourself. You deserve a healthy work-life balance.
To come up with the national rankings we analyzed the 100 most populous cities in America. To determine our ranking, we compared the cities across five key metrics and graded each metric on a 100-point scale. The five metrics were:
- Self-care professions by state – 20 points
- Work and commute – 20 points overall
- Average hours worked – 5 points
- Work-from-home – 5 points
- Mean travel time to work – 5 points
- Less than 10 minute commute – 5 points
- Household income – 20 points
- Violent crime rate – 20 points
- Weather – 20 points overall
- Mean temperature in June – 5 points
- Total precipitation in June – 5 points
- Mean temperature in December – 5 points
- Total precipitation in December – 5 points
The work and commute category was split into four subcategories: average hours worked (5 points), work-from-home (5 points), mean travel time to work (5 points), and less than 10 minute commute (5 points). The weather category was split into four subcategories: mean temperature in June (5 points), total precipitation in June (5 points), mean temperature in December (5 points), and total precipitation in December (5 points)
Sources include the U.S Census Bureau (median household income 2016-2020, 2020 data on average hours worked, work-from-home percentage, average commute to work in minutes, and percentage of less than 10 minute commutes), Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021 state occupational employment and wage estimates), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (monthly climate normals from 1990-2020), and FBI (2019 offenses known to law enforcement).
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