AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Amarillo has been considered the fourth most violent city in Texas by the FBI despite being the 14th largest city, with a violent crime rate reported in 2022 that was twice the state average. Still, a new study from WalletHub found that the people in Amarillo are significantly less worried about crime and health issues than they are about things like work, finances, and childcare.
Although stress is a normal part of life, WalletHub and previous reports on MyHighPlains.com noted that the last few years have seen a general increase in stress levels across age groups and areas of the country, spurred on by worries over things like COVID-19, inflation, and spiking homicide rates.
While stress is not always a bad thing in the right doses, as noted by Psychology Today, unmanageable and chronic stress can cause damaging effects ranging from health problems to a loss of productivity. WalletHub’s recent study compared 182 cities across the US in 39 key metrics, ranging from work hours to divorce and suicide rates, to gauge where Americans have been coping best.
Overall, WalletHub’s study found that Amarillo was the 94th most stressed city in the US and the 11th most stressed city in Texas. The Center City was reported as less stressed than Lubbock, its neighboring metropolitan, and around the ‘center’ in rankings across the rest of the country.
Still, Amarillo’s stress level ranking itself – while higher than many other cities – is less curious than what its people reported as stressors. Work, family, and financial issues – including housing and food insecurity, both prevalent issues in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle – far outweighed reported concerns about crime or other health issues.
The scores listed in Amarillo’s ranking included:
- Total Score: 41.76
- Work Stress: 159
- Financial Stress: 86
- Family Stress: 113
- Health & Safety Stress: 35
WalletHub’s primary ranking table focused on four major categories of stress when calculating cities’ final scores: Work Stress, Financial Stress, Family Stress, and Health & Safety Stress.
Some of the more specific stressors for each of those categories included:
- Work Stress:
- Average weekly work hours
- Job security and satisfaction
- Unemployment and underemployment
- Income growth
- Commute time
- Financial Stress:
- Median annual household income
- Households behind on bills in the past 12 months
- Bankruptcy and foreclosure rates
- Median debt and credit scores
- Poverty rate
- Food insecurity
- Housing affordability
- Family Stress:
- Separation and divorce rate
- Share of single-parent households
- Median duration of current marriage
- Availability of childcare workers
- Childcare costs
- Health & Safety Stress:
- Share of adults in fair or poor health
- Share of adults who could not see a doctor because of cost
- Insured population
- Adults with depression
- Mental health and suicide rate scores
- Obesity, smoking, and drinking rates
- Community well-being index score
- Crime rate
- Hate-crime incidents and mass shootings
With those individual categories, Amarillo ranked 24th in the nation for work-related stress levels and fifth in Texas. For family-related stress, Amarillo was 70th in the nation and, once again, fifth in Texas. Meanwhile, Amarillo ranked around 147th on the list for health and safety stress and 12th in Texas.
Still, the apparent lack of stress may also be a matter of framing and proportion. Another recent study from WalletHub reported that Amarillo was among the “neediest” cities in the US, with severe scores in issues such as child poverty, food insecurity, and the number of people who are underinsured. With financial and health issues so significant for the community already, Amarillo being even more concerned with work and family issues might raise a few eyebrows.
Even so, no matter what Amarillo is stressing over, community members and organizations are continuing to work to help. Resources around the area such as the Texas Workforce Commission and the Amarillo Area Foundation work to aid in economic and workplace development. The Guyon Saunders Resource Center and, the United Way of Amarillo & Canyon, and Panhandle Community Services are three of multiple organizations that offer aid with financial issues, as well as the High Plains Food Bank for help with food insecurity. Meanwhile, Family Support Services, Heal The City, Texas Panhandle Centers, and multiple other organizations work to offer support and resources for family, health, and mental health issues.
More about community organizations and resources in the Amarillo and High Plains area can be found here. Further, the full WalletHub study, methodology, and further conversations with experts can be found here.