More than four out of every 10 Canadian workers find their jobs more stressful because of the recession, according to a new survey released Thursday.

Robert Half International, a large California-based executive search firm, reported that 42 per cent of Canadian finance and accounting executives said the current economic downturn was boosting the on-the-job pressure felt by employees.

Marginally more Canadians developed negative job-related feelings compared to the average of 21 countries, where 39 per cent of employees said they were experiencing higher stress levels.

By comparison, 48 per cent of Americans polled in the same study saw their employment-related stress rise.

Robert Half interviewed 4,800 finance and accounting managers in 21 countries in its annual survey. The survey is accurate to within plus or minus 1.3 percentage points.

Rising unemployment, rising stress

Canada, along with most other industrialized nations, has seen its gross domestic products contract in recent months. But, compared to the United States, Canada's economy has shrunk by a smaller amount.

In both countries, however, the number of layoffs has risen, 80,000 in Canada for February alone, as have jobless rates.

More hours on the job while coping with the increased possibility of unemployment or at least a pay cut were the main culprits underscoring the worsening workplace, Robert Half said.

"Companies are having to do more work with fewer resources, a trend that if not addressed, may produce negative effects in the long run," said Kathryn Bolt, president of the Canadian operations of Robert Half.

A separate survey in the United Kingdom noted that, in March 2009, 61 per cent of employees said they were working more hours compared to 39 per cent last October.

The Robert Half findings for employees were marginally better when compared to the general population, at least in the United States.

A Washington Post-ABC poll found that more than six out of 10 Americans overall were stressed about the tumbling U.S. economy, with one-third saying they were experiencing serious economic-related anxiety.

Such concerns are not just confined to the occasional anti-acid pill.

London, England's Capio Nightingale Hospital, for instance, said it experienced a 20 per cent jump in the number of people seeking advice for stress-related problems in January.