Financial stress among employees increased significantly last year, according to a new survey, with 23 percent reporting "high" or "overwhelming" levels of financial stress compared to only 18 percent in 2012 and 19 percent in 2011.

The report, from Financial Finesse, a provider of workplace financial wellness programs, also found a shift in the causes of financial stress, with fewer employees citing external factors such as the stock market and U.S. economy as the main cause of their financial stress. More employees cited internal factors such as not having control over their finances or thinking they will be unable to meet their future financial goals. The percentage of employees citing the U.S. economy and stock market as the main cause of financial stress dropped from 47 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2013. The percentage of employees who reported concerns of not being able to meet future financial goals as the main cause of their financial stress rose from 35 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2013.

“Now that the economy has stabilized for the most part, employees are taking the opportunity to assess their situations in more detail,” said Financial Finesse CEO Liz Davidson in a statement. “They’ve stepped on the financial scale, so to speak, and are going ‘Wow, this is worse than I thought!’ This is a good thing even if it is causing them to feel more stress over their circumstances because they seem to recognize that they can no longer point to the stock market or the economy as the reason for their discomfort; they’re taking action to address their vulnerabilities through factors they themselves can control.”

High or overwhelming levels of stress were reported by 27 percent of women, compared to 17 percent of men; 25 percent of employees under age 30 compared to 14 percent of those ages 55 and older; 37 percent of employees making less than $60,000 a year compared to 14 percent of those making over $100,000; and 29 percent of employees with minor children compared to 19 percent of those without minor children.

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