Americans are hard workers, putting in an average of 1,767 hours per year as of 2021, according to the World Economic Forum. That’s 435 hours per year more than Germans work, but 357 fewer than Mexicans do.
Even when given the chance to not work as hard, many Americans won’t. Americans only use about half of their vacation days in a typical year, but forfeited even more than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from the pandemic, there are plenty of reasons why workers leave paid time off on the table. Some workers fear that if they take time off they will look less dedicated to the job than other employees, risking a layoff. Others worry about falling behind on their work or are concerned that the normal workflow will not be able to function without them.
It is possible to work hard without overdoing it, though. Hard work is key to success, and the people of some states understand that better than others. To determine where Americans work the hardest, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 10 key indicators. They range from average workweek hours to share of workers with multiple jobs to annual volunteer hours per resident.
Hardest-Working States in the U.S.
Direct Work Factors
Indirect Work Factors
With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Ask the Experts
The hard work ethic of Americans has brought about the creation of many successful businesses. But overworking can take a harsh toll on workers. For additional insight on both productivity and the condition of workers, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in with their thoughts on the following key questions:
- In the current economic environment, do you believe wages will register a true increase or will people need to work extra or get a second job?
- What impact do you believe automatization will have on the American worker? How will new industrial developments, like 3D printing and machine learning, impact the productivity of the average worker? How about his/her income?
- Do you believe job conditions are on the rise in the U.S.? What measures should authorities undertake in order to better protect workers?
- As economic activity gradually resumes after the COVID-19 pandemic, what are the most important measures that can be taken to ensure workers’ safety?
- How has the pandemic shaped workplace trends for the current year?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine where the hardest-working Americans live, WalletHub compared the 50 states across two key dimensions: “Direct Work Factors” and “Indirect Work Factors.”
We evaluated those dimensions using ten key metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “hardest-working.”
We then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states.
Direct Work Factors – Total Points: 80
- Average Workweek Hours: Triple Weight (~36.92 Points)
- Employment Rate: Full Weight (~12.31 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: civilian population aged 16 and over employed / total civilian population aged 16 and over in labor force.
- Share of Households where No Adults Work: Full Weight (~12.31 Points)
- Share of Workers Leaving Vacation Time Unused: Half Weight (~6.15 Points)
- Share of Engaged Workers: Half Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of employees who are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace,” as defined by Gallup.
- Idle Youth (18-24) Rate: Half Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: This metric measures the rate of residents aged 18-24 who are not currently enrolled in school, not working and have no degree beyond a high school diploma or GED.
Indirect Work Factors – Total Points: 20
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Share of Workers with Multiple Jobs: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as share of employed population with multiple jobs among total employed population.
- Annual Volunteer Hours per Resident: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Average Leisure Time Spent per Day: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Travel Association, Gallup, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Corporation for National & Community Service.
Supporting Video Files:
- YouTube - National (for web embedding)
- YouTube - Alaska (for web embedding)
- Raw video files (for editing into clips)