How Stressed Are We in New Jersey?

How Stressed Are We in New Jersey?

A poll conducted by Rutgers Center for State Health Policy found that finances and health are key drivers of stress in the Garden State

The findings of a poll conducted by Rutgers Center for State Health Policy underscore the importance of addressing affordability in New Jersey.

More than one-quarter of residents in New Jersey – over 1.5 million – say they have a great deal of stress in their lives. They are most stressed about their ability to pay their bills, and about not having enough time to do the things they want, or need, to do.

Jobs are another significant source of stress among residents who are working or looking for work.

These are some of the findings in the New Jersey Health and Well-Being Poll, conducted by Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, which sought to measure exactly how stressed we are in New Jersey. The poll was conducted with a scientific sample of 1,202 New Jersey adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

“Stress figures prominently in the lives of a large share of New Jersey residents,” said Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. “New Jersey residents having a hard time making ends meet and those experiencing health problems are among those most likely to report high stress.”

One in six residents say they don’t have enough money to pay their bills and more of than half of them report feeling very stressed. More than 40 percent of the state’s residents who are in fair or poor health also report high levels of stress.

The poll also finds demographic disparities in the state. Blacks are more likely than other racial groups to report a great deal of stress overall, women report somewhat more stress than men and middle-age respondents report more stress than their older counterparts. 

New Jerseyans report about the same level of stress as people across the nation, Cantor said. But the State Health and Well-Being Poll brings to light certain needs in New Jersey.

“Our findings underscore the importance of addressing affordability in New Jersey, including assuring that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care,” said Cantor, a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “Policy debates about the future of health insurance and the cost of living in New Jersey are consequential for millions of Garden State residents.”

The poll is part of a Health & Well-Being project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, whose vision for a Culture of Health focuses on strengthening communities and families to improve well-being. 

“Research shows that stress can significantly impact our health,” said Kerry Anne McGeary, senior program officer at RWJF. “Knowing just how much stress New Jerseyans are burdened with helps us find the way to new solutions to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.”

Other key findings include:

  • Family is more of a comfort than a significant source of stress. Just 15 percent said that family members caused them a great deal of stress, while 56 percent said family caused not much or no stress at all.
  • While overall only 18 percent of respondents say they have a great deal of stress from a current job or job search, this number jumps to 38 percent among those who are unemployed and 24 percent of those currently working.
  • Blacks (non-Hispanic) are more likely than other racial-ethnic groups to report “a great deal of stress” overall and for many specific sources of stress asked about in the poll.  Hispanics and non-citizens report greater levels of stress related to family members than other groups. 
  • The poll found few differences in reported stress across regions of New Jersey, although those in the southern part of the state report greater time- and family-related stress.

You can view full poll results here and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NJHealthPoll.