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The Most Financially Stressed States in America

Feeling stressed about money or the state of the economy is normal. In fact, the American Psychological Association found in fall 2022 that around 66% of Americans feel significantly stressed about money. [1] American Psychological Association, ‘Stress in America 2022’

Inflation soared to a 40-year high in June 2022 at 9.1%, although 2023’s current trend has seen it consistently reduce, the stress it has caused Americans may not be reducing at the same rate. [2] US Inflation Calculator

With this challenging financial environment of 2022 and 2023, Self Financial commissioned a study to get an understanding of the nation on how they’re feeling about their financial situation. The study reviewed 152,325 tweets (which may also be referred to as posts under the ‘X’ rebrand) from Americans from July 2021 to May 2023, utilizing an algorithm that analyzes stress levels in text to create a state-by-state breakdown of the most financially stressed states. 

Find out how each state compares in the full study below. 


Key findings:

  • West Virginia is the financial stress capital of the U.S. with 62.78% of finance-related tweets showing signs of stress. 
  • Residents of Missouri show the least financial stress with only 36.49% of their tweets being classed as stressed. 
  • Over 2 in 5 women are financially stressed (46.6%), compared to 44.9% of men when comparing the rate of stress in tweets made by men and women.
  • Tax is the most stressful financial topic in America, with 68.53% of posts about the topic showing high signs of stress. 
  • North Dakota had the highest percentage of stressed posts related to the economy (52.94%), Nebraska gets the most stressed about the cost of living (46.67%), New Hampshire is the most stressed about rent (41.94%), and Utah is the most stressed about taxes (99.35%). 

What is a ‘stressed tweet’?

Developed by a professor of data science, Mike Thelwall, the ‘TensiStrength’ algorithm can calculate how stressed a tweet is based on the contents of the text. The tool rates text from -1 (not stressed) to -5 (highly stressed), with low stress starting at -2. This analysis accounts for stressed tweets as those which scored -3, -4, or -5. 

Which state is the most stressed about finances?

Analyzing over 152,000 tweets, the study revealed that West Virginia is the most financially stressed state, with 62.78% of its finance-related posts showing high signs of stress, closely followed by Delaware (61.23%). 

The below map reveals the full state-by-state breakdown ranked by their financial stress levels:

All Rent Economy Cost of Living Taxes

* N/A indicates where there was not enough data present for that combination of topic and state to analyze.

The 10 most financially stressed states

While West Virginians are tweeting their frustrations with finances the most, many other eastern states follow closely behind, with Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Mississippi all in the top ten for financial stress. 

  1. West Virginia (62.78%)
  2. Delaware (61.23%)
  3. Pennsylvania (61.09%)
  4. New Hampshire (60.12%)
  5. North Dakota (60.00%)
  6. Alabama (59.93%)
  7. Connecticut (59.22%)
  8. Mississippi (58.97%)
  9. Montana (57.93%)
  10. South Carolina (57.23%)

The 10 least financially stressed states

Those in Missouri were posting the fewest stressed tweets, with just over a third (36.49%) of financially-related tweets showing high signs of stress. New York was found to be the second least stressed state, one of the few East Coast states to buck the financial stress trend, which has over 4% more stressed posts (40.54%). 

Here are the top 10 least financially stressed states ranked by their percentage of stressed tweets: 

  1. Missouri (36.49%)
  2. New York (40.54%)
  3. Massachusetts (41.21%)
  4. New Jersey (41.45%)
  5. Virginia (42.75%)
  6. Ohio (42.88%)
  7. Nevada (45.00%)
  8. Texas (46.37%)
  9. Michigan (46.41%)
  10. Wyoming (47.22%)

Gender and financial stress in America

Across the nation, women are slightly more stressed about their finances than women. Of all the tweets where a user could be defined as a man, 44.9% of their tweets showed signs of moderate to high stress, whereas 46.6% of women’s tweets showed this level of stress. 

How financially stressed are men and women in the U.S.
Men 44.9%
Women 46.6%

While the national average shows 45.32% of posts having signs of stress, not all tweets could be assigned a gender due to Twitter's optional anonymity (people can set their names to anything they like and do not have to state pronouns). Of the initial dataset of 152,325 tweets, 59.6% (90,781) were assigned gender.

States with the most stressed men and women 

South Dakota was found to be the state where women vented their financial stresses the most (68.52% of posts), while West Virginia had the highest portion of men stress tweeting (67%).

In the nationally least stressed state, Wyoming, women were stressed in 43.48% of their tweets, while men had 38.1% of stressed posts. The majority of low-stress tweets that caused the state to have a lower average stress level were from accounts where no gender could be accurately identified. 

States with the most financially stressed men 

  1. West Virginia (67%)
  2. North Dakota (65.85%)
  3. New Hampshire (65.59%)
  4. Delaware (63.26%)
  5. Pennsylvania (62.28%)

States with the most financially stressed women

  1. South Dakota (68.52%)
  2. Montana (65.67%)
  3. New Hampshire (65.02%)
  4. Idaho (64.63%)
  5. Pennsylvania (64.23%)

What causes financial stress?

The study reviewed tweets based on four key financial areas: the economy, the cost of living, taxes, and rent. The data allows for analysis at each level of topic area revealing which states were more stressed about each topic. 

Overall, taxes were the most stressful topic for people to talk about, with 88.01% of tweets related to taxes being stressed. The table below shows how that compares to discussions around the economy, the cost of living, and rent.

Topic Percentage of stressed tweets
Taxes 68.53%
Economy 37.33%
Cost of living 34.09%
Rent 25.67%

Below is just one example of tweets from users who were discussing the topics, with this individual understandably highly stressed. 

One Brooklyn user posts about inflation, high rents and an incoming recession which shows very high signs of stress which the algorithm analyzed. Full details on how the algorithm measures stress can be found in the methodology. 

Here’s how those topics impact residents and their stress levels at a state level:


Residents of North Dakota had the highest percentage of stressed posts related to the economy and inflation at 52.94%, followed by neighboring South Dakota (45.78%), and Vermont (44.4%). 

Alaskans showed the lowest signs of stress in their discussions around the economy (30.77%), with New York (33.46%) in second, and Illinois in third (34.54%).

Cost of living

The state where residents are feeling the most stressed about the cost of living was found to be Nebraska with 46.67% of tweets showing signs of stress. After Nebraska, Connecticut (44.68%) and Vermont (44%) had the next highest percentage of stressed tweets discussing the cost of living. 

Michigan had the lowest percentage of stressed posts (19.65%) related to the cost of living, followed by Maryland (21.24%) and Nevada (22.54%).


When it came to taxes, Utah had the highest percentage of stressed tweets at 99.35%, followed by Iowa (99.07%), and New Hampshire (98.71%). Generally, Americans did not speak favorably about taxes. 

At the other end of the table, Missouri had a drastically lower percentage of stressed tweets relating to taxes (37.77%) contributing to it placing second overall for financial stress. One 2023 report found that Missouri had the 9th lowest tax burden in the U.S. which could be contributing to this lower stress from residents. [3] NPR, ‘These are the states with the highest and lowest tax burdens, a report says’

Massachusetts had the second-lowest percentage of stressed tweets about taxes (47.78%), followed by New Jersey (51.68%).


The final category of financial stress that the study analyzed was rent. New Hampshire came out on top with 41.94% of the state’s tweets about rent being stressed, followed closely by New Mexico (41.18%) and Massachusetts (36.13%).

The southeastern states of Mississippi and Alabama were the states with the lowest portion of stressed posts about rent, at 12.07% and 14.41% respectively. 

Stress levels per financial topic and gender

Across all topics of financial conversation, the study found that stress is relatively evenly distributed between men and women, with women slightly more likely to show signs of stress in their posts. The one financial topic where men tweeted their stress more than women was found to be in relation to rent. 

Men Women
Taxes 66.03% 68.92%
Economy 37.21% 38.84%
Cost of living 32.78% 34.93%
Rent 26.41% 23.77


The study reviewed data from 152,325 tweets on Twitter (rebranded as X) from American users on that were posted from July 2021 to May 2023. [4] X/Twitter Tweets were collected where users had tweeted about any of the following phrases: “cost of living,” “taxes,” “rent,” “economy,” or “inflation.”. Geolocation data was collected from tweets to analyze the data at a state level. 

Once this Twitter data had been reviewed by the research team it was run through the TensiStrength tool, [5] University of Wolverhampton, TensiStrength developed by data science professor, Mike Thelwall, which reveals how stressed a tweet is. [6] University of Wolverhampton, Mike Thelwall The tool rates text from -1 to -5 based on stress, with low levels of stress beginning at -2, and extremely high levels of stress at -5. This analysis classed any stressed tweet as scoring -3 or higher. 

To assign gender to Twitter users, the study used the Social Security Administration’s top baby names database of almost 100,000 names (as well as spelling variations) across the states for American boys and girls. [7] Social Security, ‘Popular Baby Names’ A total of 90,781 accounts were assigned a probable gender based on their name. The remaining tweets were not included in the gender section of the analysis for this reason. 


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