With Congressional talks concerning the fiscal cliff well under way, there is increasing optimism in the U.S. that an amicable agreement will be reached prior to the Jan. 1 deadline. On the back of consistent job growth and the improved levels of worker confidence that were displayed during the second and third financial quarters, this has enabled U.S. citizens to anticipate a more prosperous 2013 than they had initially imagined.
The economy added 171,000 jobs in October, and this followed the strong hiring trends established during August and September. Even the rise in unemployment during this time from 7.8% to 7.9% can be viewed in a largely positive light, because this slight increase merely reflected the increasing number of citizens who were actively looking for work. This in turn suggests that unemployed Americans are gaining newfound confidence in the labor market and renewing their job searches with purpose.

Achieving Work/Life Balance
With the number of firms hiring on the rise, employers would do well to note the changing mindsets of job seekers in the current market. According to a 2012 study by Saleforce's social performance management division Rypple, money is no longer the single most decisive factor in determining the career paths that employees follow. In fact, recognition has emerged as a far more important consideration among the current demographic of workers with just under 70% claiming that they would work harder if they were acknowledged and rewarded in relation to their efforts.

Another factor is the desire to create an ideal balance between work and life. This often becomes increasingly prevalent during times of financial hardship or sluggish economic growth. There is a theory which suggests that as organizations look to expand after a downturn they ask more of their existing staff and any new team members they choose to employ. This only serves to increase levels of employee stress and anxiety and may prompt many to seek alternative, less stressful careers that are more compatible with their home lives.

Three Low-Stress Jobs
With this in mind, the challenge facing those in search of an improved work/life balance is how to find low-stress jobs in thriving industries. After all, while the economy may be experiencing growth it is extremely tentative, and job seekers will not be able to choose from a vast and diverse range of stress free employment opportunities. There are some jobs that offer both low levels of stress and long-term security to job seekers.

Medical Records Technician
While the health sector may be thriving at present, it is widely associated with pressurized jobs, long hours and extremely challenging working conditions. One health care role that bucks this trend is that of a medical records technician, which was created to enable a single individual to organize and manage patients' information while communicating with doctors to clarify diagnoses. Ranked as the least stressful job of 2012 by leading employment market authority CareerCast, it boasts a modest annual remuneration of $32,350 which reflects the minimal responsibility associated with the role.

Massage Therapist
Often a job is only as stressful as the workplace environment or wider industry, and job seekers searching for a slow-paced setting in which to work should consider becoming a massage therapist. Not only is the core function of a massage therapist to soothe tired or overworked muscles and cultivate an atmosphere of relaxation, but the service provided also targets a less than demanding consumer base. The job also has minimal barriers to entry. This role is typically remunerated at approximately $39,770 per annum, which is fairly competitive in a depressed economy.

Database Analyst
While the IT sector is set for continued growth throughout the next decade, the majority of associated jobs carry a noticeable degree of stress and pressure. The role of database analyst is an exception to this rule largely because it is an advisory position which is not necessarily distinguished by strict deadlines or unreasonable sales targets. The role of a database analyst is to evaluate the way in which an organization sources, stores and presents its information. According to the BLS, the industry is set to experience high demand between now and 2018. It also carries an average annual salary of $60,000 per annum, which is particularly impressive when you consider the job security that it offers.

The Bottom Line
While all jobs carry a certain degree of stress, it cannot be ignored that some contribute towards a positive work/life balance far more than others. For those keen to embrace a low-stress career and enjoy a more fulfilling home life, the key is to seek job roles that exist within thriving and prosperous industries.

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