The Least Stressful Jobs To Work In The US

A survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the least stressful jobs can be found in the agriculture, lumber, and forestry industries.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

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During pandemic lockdowns, many people suddenly became unemployed or began working remotely from home. Time away from the drudgery of normal work life gave people a chance to reevaluate what they wanted and possibly make some changes. If you are still contemplating this shift, perhaps news about the least stressful jobs in America may help. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts regular Time Use Surveys. Typically, those simply ask Americans to record how they spend their time. However, four recent surveys dive a little deeper. 

In 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2021, the surveys “also asked a subset of those people how meaningful those activities were, or how happy, sad, stressed, pained and tired they felt on a six-point scale,” according to MSN. Participants were asked to self-report their levels of happiness, meaning, and stress. And the results may surprise you. 

According to the survey results, the top least stressful jobs are in the agriculture, lumber, and forestry industries. Workers in those fields rated their stress levels at 1.6 on a 6-point scale. But that wasn’t the only category that scored big for those industries.

On top of being the least stressful jobs, employees in those industries were the happiest (4.4) and got the most meaning out of their work (5.2). That is great news for anyone currently working with their hands in one of these tough industries. But it raises the question, “why?”

MSN looked more deeply at other questions on the Time Use Survey to find out. “The most meaningful and happiness-inducing activities were religious and spiritual, which doesn’t tell us much about farming or forestry — at least not as it’s commonly practiced in the United States. But the second-happiest activity — sports, exercise and recreation — helps crack the case.”

Sports, exercise, and recreation received a 5.0 for happiness, 5.0 for meaning, and .8 for stress. And as we all know, those working in agriculture, forestry, and logging spend a lot of time getting exercise. It takes a different form than what many of us are used to, but it is exercise nonetheless.

Additionally, the least stressful jobs have something else in common with another category. The survey asked participants to rate their happiest place on earth. Coming in number 2 was outdoors, but not at home.

“Researchers across the social and medical sciences have found a strong link between mental health and green space or being outdoors.” And, as luck would have it, the least stressful jobs spend most of their time outdoors. But they don’t just spend their time outdoors.

Workers in these industries spend their time working with the earth, plants, and animals. They have a deeper connection to our world than those of us stuck in an office staring out at the trees in the courtyard. But if you are hoping for a new job that is not outdoors, don’t worry. 

The good news is that there are some high-ranking industries where you can work indoors. Real estate, rentals, and leasing tied for second happiest workers with construction. And closely on their heels were the management, administrative, and waste industries.