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Atlanta ranked third worst for work-life balance

It seems Atlantans don't do very well balancing work and private life. In fact, according to data from Kisi keyless security experts, Atlanta ranked third worst on the list of top cities for healthy work-life balance, released August 7.

San Diego was named the city with the best work-life balance, followed by Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. At the bottom of the list, Washington, D.C., and Houston were the worst and second-worst at juggling job duties and family and leisure, landing them on Kisi's list of "most overworked" cities. Atlanta was next on the "too many hours, too much commute, not enough health care" list, ahead of Seattle in fourth and Chicago in fifth.

The study strictly addressed work-life balance, looking at factors such as work intensity, social spending as a percentage of GDP and access to mental health for each of the 40 cities it ranked. It also gauged how society and institutions addressed gender and LGBT equality.

Atlanta's reputation as a 2019 Travel + Leisure "Best Place to Travel" pick is still safe. Same goes for its selection as a best staycation spot. And while no one is going to take Atlanta off WalletHub's list of the best cities for jobs – where it placed 18 out of 182 for 2019 – the poor showing on the healthiest cities for work-balance list suggests Atlantans aren't living their best lives at work and at home.

Bad work-life balance marks for Atlanta

So why do workers in Atlanta struggle with being able to both bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan? The data dinged Atlanta in these areas:

  • Work intensity: Atlanta came in 38 of 40 on this measure, which included statistics like hours worked per week (a 28th place finish for the ATL with 42.7). Atlanta also had 14 percent of workers, on average, who toiled in excess of 48 hours each and every week. Only five cities had worse stats on long hours.
  • Commute: Commuting one way, in minutes, was also evaluated, and Atlanta (not surprisingly) is awful. The average one-way commute totaled 31.6 minutes. In Wichita, that one-way commute total was a mere 19.5 minutes, giving workers around two hours more per week spent outside a car compared to Atlantans. Only Chicago; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and New York had longer commutes than Atlanta.
  • City livability: Atlanta could only amass enough "livability" points to rank 38 among the cities studied. Atlanta did decently on the "city stress" component. It was the 15th best out of 40 in this category, with a score of 57.3. (Detroit was ranked 100 in city stress, Seattle just 21.8.) Air pollution was also an issue: Atlanta had the 12th worst air pollution problem. Atlanta ranked seventh-worst in its number of outdoor spaces.

Atlanta's "Society and Institutions" rating wasn't as bad. It came in 29 of 40 in that area, with statistics like its 5th-best "access to mental health care" ranking balancing out other numbers like a 4th-worst ranking on "access to health care." Of the cities studied, only Memphis, Oklahoma City and Tulsa fared worse in the access to health care tabulation.

Meanwhile, people in Helsinki take 28 days vacation on average

The research also took on the imbalance between American lifestyles and those enjoyed in 23 international cities. In a separate ranking, Kisi data scored 23 international and 17 U.S. cities already known to encourage work-life balance "both directly and indirectly through policies and urban infrastructure." Helsinki came in first on this scale, followed by Munich and Oslo. Just three American cities ranked in the top 20, with San Diego coming in at 17, Portland, Oregon, at 19 and San Francisco at 20.

A few of Helsinki's enviable stats included the minimum of 30 vacation days offered (with 28.7 days taken on average), the three years of paid maternity and parental leave offered and a 91.6 LGBT equality score. On that last metric, only Stockholm scored higher, with 100, while San Francisco had an impressive 94, ahead of all but six other international cities evaluated.

Kisi envisions the data as the first of an ongoing ranking. It plans to expand beyond the initial 40 U.S. cities as more data becomes available.

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