Analysis: Lumberjacking among happiest jobs in America?

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — How happy are you at work? A new report found that lumberjacks believe they have the happiest and most meaningful work of any major industry.

Agriculture, logging and forestry have the lowest levels of self-reported stress and the highest levels of self-reported happiness, according to an analysis by The Washington Post of time journals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey.

On a scale from 0 being the lowest score for well-being to 6 being the highest, the agriculture, logging and forestry industry category reported 4.4 for happiness, 5.2 for meaning and 1.9 for stress.

Lumberjack couple Alissa and Mike Wetherbee say the analysis rings true. The Wetherbees told NewsNation host Leland Vittert on Thursday that they are “amazingly happy” and that their profession that is “super rewarding.”

“You get to be outside. It’s amazing. You’re with nature. It’s kind of like if you enjoyed gardening, but just on a very different scale. You’re outside, you’re with wildlife, you’re in the fresh air,” Alissa Wetherbee said. “You’re doing physical work. You’re tired at the end of the day, and you’re satisfied.”

Alissa Wetherbee grew up chopping wood with her family. Now, she is the owner of the “Axe Women Loggers of Maine” traveling show, a timber sports world champion and the first person to logroll across the Mississippi River and in the Everglades.

“We get to travel. We get to work together. We’re doing something that’s super rewarding. We have our house and our property, and yeah, we love it,” she added.

One of the potential pitfalls of being a lumberjack is the possible dangers. According to reporting from December, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that loggers have the most dangerous job in the U.S. The profession reportedly had a fatal work injury rate of 82 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2021.

Mike Wetherbee pointed out there are accidents in every profession.

“I can tell you that being on the board of directors at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum, we’ve got a living history museum. It’s an actual 1790s logging community with the equipment that’s still working from back then. We’ve got volunteers, our Tuesday crew, they’ve got 800 years of combined experience in logging and they can show you how it’s done carefully and safely every day,” he said.

He said responsible loggers who properly collect and gather timber are among some of the happiest.

The real estate, rental and leasing category came in second on The Washington Post’s list, with slightly lower happiness and meaning scores and a higher stress rating.

Finance and insurance landed at the bottom of the list with a 3.6 in happiness, 4.1 for meaning and 2.9 for stress.

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