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A Stressed City

September 14, 2010

If you’re feeling stressed, it may not be your job or the people in your life.  It may be …. (gulp!) Philly!  It seems that the City of Brotherly Love is now earning a reputation for something a lot less enviable:  #12 on a list of 50 most-stressed metropolitan areas. and bizjournals examined a range of stress factors and a 10-part formula to estimate the stress levels in the nation’s 50 biggest metros, using the most recent data available from several government agencies and private firms.  So here are the indicators and how Philly fared:

  • Unemployment: Twenty of the 50 biggest metros had double digit numbers for unemployment. Philly’s unemployment was just under the double-digit cut at 9.5%.  (Vegas was the worst with over 14%.)
  • Income growth: Income levels dropped in 47 of the 50 markets between 2008 and 2009.  In Philly, the change was -0.79%.  (Vegas, again, took the honors for the worst drop.)
  • Poverty: The percentage of families living below the poverty line in Philadelphia was 7.9% in 2008, according to the US Census Bureau.  (Memphis has the worst poverty problem in the study group, with 13.9%).
  • Deaths from circulatory-system diseases: Philly reportedly had 343.8 per 100,000 in 2006.  (The “Big Easy” has the highest number of deaths caused by heart failure, hypertension, and stroke, a rate of 414.4 per 100,000 residents, and they don’t even have our famous cheese steak!)
  • Sunshine: The weather is certainly a contributing factor to how most people feel on any given day.  And it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia, only about 56% of the time.  Pittsburgh is the gloomiest market, with only 45% of possible sunshine in a typical year.  (Vegas makes up for its unemployment and income issues by being the sunniest metro, tied with Phoenix, at 85%.)
  • Unhealthy air: Philadelphia did 0.087 in parts per million.  Not sure what that means in layman terms.  But rest assured, it’s not the worst.  (Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Riverside suffer the worst ozone problems in the study group.)
  • Robberies: In 2009, Philly had 583.9 robberies per 100,000 residents.  (Cleveland has the worst rate, with 827.5 robberies per 100,000 residents in 2009).
  • Murders: In 2009, Philly had 19.5 murders per 100,000 residents.  (Along with the highest number of deaths resulting from circulatory diseases, New Orleans is also the deadliest city on the list, with 51.7 murders per 100,000 residents in 2009.)
  • Commuting: Philadelphians (and surrounding suburbanites, presumably) spend 28.21 minutes getting to work in 2008. (New York City took first place here, with a typical commute to work taking 34.55 minutes.)
  • Housing costs: Affordability is based on a comparison of median home values and median household incomes; in Philadelphia, the house value was listed as $4,008 for every $1,000 of income. (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, all in California, have the worst ratios.)

So with all those statistics against us, it’s no wonder that life in Philly can be stressful sometimes.  But hey, we didn’t make the top 10 list, nor did we make the top of any one factor.  And if you’re still feeling stressed, our city also offers great ways to bust the stress:  from walking/biking along Kelly Drive to visiting the Art Museum (free for Bank of America customers during the first weekend of the month) to just hanging out with friends and watching your favorite Philly sports team, there are plenty of ways to relieve that stress.  One easy way to start, just breathe.

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