The Best and Worst States
to Work in America

In 2018, workers are not sharing in the bounty of our thriving economy — and the federal government is not going to make changes that matter. Some states are taking steps to keep working families out of poverty, and to give them a decent chance. How does your state rank?

Find out more in our report, view full spreadsheets of the data, or review the methodology.


ranks #

ranks # overall, # for wage policies, # for worker protection policies; and # for right to organize. In , the minimum wage is .

is ranked first in the nation, but there is still room to improve worker rights. It leads the nation by ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. Continuing to pass legislation improving the treatment of workers will help ensure remains the national model for worker rights and protections.

is ranked last in the nation in worker rights and protections. It falls behind the nation in ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. By passing legislation improving the treatment of workers, can begin to better its regional standing.

is ranked first in the region, but there is room to improve at the national level. It leads the region by ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. Continuing to pass legislation improving the treatment of workers can help become a national model for worker rights and protections.

is ranked last in the region in worker rights and protections. It falls behind the region in ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. By passing legislation improving the treatment of workers, can begin to better its regional standing.

rank closely in the labor index. These states are on a similar level in ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. Limited new legislation improving the treatment of workers can help differentiate itself as a regional leader in worker rights and protections.

has room to improve in worker rights and protections. It is just beneath regionally in ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. New legislation improving the treatment of workers can help to make a rising frontrunner for worker rights and protections in the region.

District of Columbia leads the nation through greater worker protections and livable wages. It has a minimum wage of per hour, percent of what it takes to live in the state for a family of four. DC provides a right to pump in the workplace and job-protected leave, in addition to regulating shift scheduling practices. DC also leads the nation in paid sick.

District of Columbia leads the nation through greater worker protections and livable wages. It has a minimum wage of $13.25 per hour, 42.2 percent of what it takes to live in the state for a family of four. In , this ratio is percent of what it takes to live in the state. DC provides a right to pump in the workplace and job-protected leave, in addition to regulating shift scheduling practices. DC also leads the nation in paid sick.

leads the region through greater worker protections and livable wages. It has a minimum wage of per hour, percent of what it takes to live in the state for a family of four. In , this ratio is percent, with similar costs of living. provides rights in several areas where is lacking, particularly worker protections.


Best States to Work Index by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis region

Average index score by Bureau of Economic Analysis region


How does rate in the Best States to Work index?

Wage policies ranking: #
Worker Protection policies ranking: #

:

Right to organize policies ranking: #*

:

* 21 states tie for #1.


Methodology

All data is based on laws and policies in effect as of July 1, 2018.

The index is based on state policies in three dimensions; each accounts for a third of the final overall score.

View full spreadsheets of the data.

Wage policies

Do workers earn a living wage that is sufficient to provide for them and their families? This dimension includes two areas:

  • The ratio of the actual state minimum wage in relation to the “living wage” for a family of four with one wage earner. The living wage figure is from the MIT Living Wage Calculator 1.
  • Whether or not the state allows localities to implement their own minimum wage laws 2.
Worker protection policies

This dimension considers the quality of life for workers, especially women and parents. The policies include:

  • Protections for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
  • Mandates for equal pay, pay secrecy, and no salary history.
  • Leave for non-FMLA workers because of less time on the job; leave longer than federal FMLA.
  • Mandate for paid sick leave.
  • Protections around flexible scheduling, reporting pay, split shift pay, advance notice.
  • Protections around sexual harassment.
Right to organize policies

Do workers have the right to organize and sustain a trade union?

  • Does the state have a so-called “Right to Work” law (which suppresses union activity)?
  • Do public employees (teachers, police, firefighters) have rights to collective bargaining and wage negotiation?
  • Are project labor agreements for government contracts available?
  1. MIT Living Wage Calculator. http://livingwage.mit.edu
  2. Local control over the minimum wage is based on Input provided by the National Employment Law Project, 2018.
Oxfam.org Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+