Ohio Cities Are Stressful Places to Live, Survey Says


Ohio is a stressful place to live. At least, if the latest rankings from WalletHub are any indication.

The personal finance website, known for its ranking lists, recently rated 182 cities from most to least stressful, and Ohio ended up with four in the top 15 – the only state to have more than one in the top 20.

Cleveland ranked No. 2, Cincinnati ranked No. 7, Toledo ranked No. 11 and Akron ranked No. 13.  Columbus wasn’t too far behind at 59, but still in the top third of most stressful cities.

Detroit, Michigan, is the most stressful place to live, the study says.

Alabama isn’t too far behind with three cities in the top 30 (No. 8 Birmingham, No. 22 Mobile and No. 27 Montgomery), followed by Louisiana with two (No. 10 Shreveport and No. 25 New Orleans).

So what is it that makes Ohio cities so stressful?

The website uses a point system for work, family, financial, and health and safety stresses. WalletHub evaluated these four stress areas using 39 different metrics and scored them on a 100-point scale.

Cleveland was in the top 20 in all categories except work stress where it ended up 21st.

Work stress looked at nine items, including commute time, unemployment rates, job security, job satisfaction and income growth. Ohio actually does pretty well in these metrics with only Cincinnati (No. 18) and Cleveland (No. 21) in the top 30.

And the state does even better when it comes to family stresses like child care costs, share of single-parent households, length of current marriage, and separation and divorce rates. Only Cleveland was ranked in the top 30 at No. 11. That ranking was due to Cleveland’s first place position in divorce rates.

It’s financial stress and health and safety that puts Ohio so high up the list of stressed-out places.

Financial stress looked at poverty rate, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates, housing affordability, negative mortgage equity, income and debt, and credit scores.  Here’s how Ohio cities ranked:

  • Cleveland – 1 (also tied for first in the poverty metric)
  • Akron – 11
  • Toledo – 16
  • Cincinnati – 23

But the stresses associated with health and safety are what put all five Ohio cities at the top:

  • Cincinnati – 4
  • Akron – 5
  • Toledo – 11
  • Cleveland  – 15
  • Columbus – 26

The health and safety categories included obesity, smokers and binge drinkers, crime, amount of sleep, suicide and depression, and number of people with insurance. Akron came in fourth and Toledo came in fifth overall in the amount of sleep category.

WalletHub rankings aren’t always well-received.

In 2015, WalletHub named Pahrump, Nevada one of the nation’s worst cities. An opinion piece in the Pahrump Valley Times called the surveys “dumb.”

Why do I call them dumb surveys? Because WalletHub cranks them out like Egg McMuffins. It’s Veteran’s Day, so here’s a survey on the best cities for veterans. Some of the surveys are incredibly banal: “According to a recent WalletHub study, three North Carolina cities are among the 15 worst cities in the U.S. for celebrating Halloween.”

In June, North Dakota blogger, columnist and podcaster Rob Port called the reports “very stupid.” WalletHub had ranked North Dakota 40th in that nation in terms of “fun.”

“Stupid because the criteria for these reports are arbitrary, and the analysis is shallow,” he wrote. “Stupid also because the companies like WalletHub (and NerdWallet and Insurify, etc., etc.) produce them as a way to market themselves, yet they have real world consequences.”

While the rankings may be irrelevant to some, others think there may be a grain of truth in them that should be examined.

In 2018, WalletHub ranked Shreveport, Louisiana, No. 182 out of 182 places to find a job. In an op-ed piece for the Shreveport Times, local businessman Graham Walker said WalletHub may be on to something.

“What hurts about the WalletHub article is that it reveals something we’ve all known,” he writes. “We all feel the decline in our city. But who among us feels there is a plan to suspend the decline, moreover to rebuild it.”

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Maggie Leigh Thurber is a writer for The Ohio Star. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Cleveland, Ohio Skyline” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.




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