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These Are the 16 Hardest Working States in America

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The world recognizes the United States for its strong work ethic, with a reported average of 1,811 hours dedicated to work annually. According to Pew Research Center, a startling 4 out of 10 workers in the U.S. didn’t take their paid time off in 2023. 

Maintaining a balance, however, is crucial. Hard work is undeniably a recipe for success but overdoing it can lead to burnout. People of certain states notably master this balance better than others.

We’ve curated the hardest-working states in this list based on research that indicates certain key metrics. Each state demonstrates a unique blend of dedication and diligence. 

Metrics That Determine America’s Hardest-Working States

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WalletHub uses direct and indirect work factors to evaluate where the hardest-working Americans live. Direct work factors include the average workweek hours, employment rate, unused vacation time, and the presence of working adults in households. Indirect work factors, such as commute times and holding multiple jobs, assess the work-life balance.

These dimensions rely on ten graded key metrics, which received grades on a 100-point scale, where 100 indicates the hardest working. Each state’s overall score comes from the weighted average of these metrics and helps rank the states.

1. North Dakota

State Capitol Building in North Dakota MSN
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North Dakota is America’s hardest-working state, with a score of 67.68. It holds the first position in direct work factors, which reflects its exceptional labor and productivity levels. The state ranks third for the longest workweek hours and second for the highest employment rates, showing a deep-rooted work ethic.

However, North Dakota’s 44th place in indirect work factors signals less time allocated for leisure compared to other states. The high rank implies that, on average, North Dakotans opt to dedicate more hours to work rather than leisure.

2. Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
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Alaska, the vast and rugged state known for its challenging environments, ranks 2nd with a total score of 65.47. It lands in 2nd place in direct work factors, thanks to the resilience of its workforce, which thrives despite harsh conditions. The state also stands out with the longest workweek hours, showcasing a commitment to work that is second to none.

Alaskans display a robust work ethic, despite the typical geographical and climatic challenges, which is clear from an employment rate of 96.3%. On the front of indirect work factors, however, Alaska slots in at the 27th place, hinting at a work-leisure balance better than North Dakota’s. The high placement in direct work factors and mid-tier rank in indirect work factors suggests that while Alaskans are highly committed to their work, they also maintain a moderate degree of leisure time.

3. South Dakota

Sturgis South Dakota Annual Motor Bike Rally MSN
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South Dakota grabs the 3rd spot with a total score of 61.44. Also ranking 3rd in direct work factors, the state is a powerhouse of productivity, with its citizens showing immense dedication to their jobs. South Dakota also boasts the highest employment rate, a clear indicator of its thriving job market and the drive of its people.

Sitting at 22nd for indirect work factors, South Dakotans seem adept at aligning their professional commitments with their personal lives. The data suggests that South Dakotans balance work and aspects outside of work, contributing to its high placement.

4. Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska
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Nebraska, with a total score similar to South Dakota at 61.44, lands at 4th due to the breakdown in rankings. It has an efficient and productive workforce, evident from its 5th-place spot in direct work factors and 7th in indirect work factors. 

The ranking reveals the side of Nebraska where hard work seamlessly coexists with personal life aspects. The state also holds the fourth highest employment rate—concrete proof of the “get-things-done” spirit among its people. In essence, Nebraska shares a story of high productivity, a balanced lifestyle, and a community fueled by employment.

5. Wyoming

Grand Tetons
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Wyoming ranks 5th with a total score of 61.42, showcasing a robust work culture. It occupies the 6th position in direct work factors, reflecting a firm commitment to job performance and productivity. With a 3rd rank in indirect work factors, Wyoming shows a commendable work-life harmony that fosters personal growth and rest. 

The state prioritizes efficient work practices and emphasizes the importance of downtime, which leads to higher job satisfaction. Wyoming also stands out for having the 3rd longest average workweek, combined with an impressive employment rate of 96.3%. This blend of dedication to work and quality of life contributes significantly to its closely aligned rankings.

6. Texas

Forth Worth, Texas
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Texas takes the 6th rank with a score of 58.77, driven by a strong performance in direct work factors, where it places 4th. The high rank speaks to the state’s ethos of hard work and determination, deeply rooted in its workforce. The state’s average workweek ranks second highest, highlighting Texas’ intense work culture.

At 40th placement in indirect work factors, there’s room for improvement in balancing work and life. With an employment rate of 96%, it’s evident that Texans are deeply committed to their work. A focused approach to productivity is impressive but indicates the need for better work-life balance in the Lone Star State.

7. Virginia

Charlestown West Virginia MSN
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Virginia, blending historical landmarks with bustling modern cities, stands at 7th with a score of 55.69. It ranks 11th in direct work factors, which exhibits a workforce that excels in productivity and dedication. Its rank of 12th in indirect work factors reflects a commendable effort to balance professional duties and personal life.

The dual focus underscores the state’s ability to foster a well-rounded work culture, evidenced by the closely aligned rankings in direct and indirect work factors. Virginia’s balanced approach demonstrates how a strong work ethic and life satisfaction coexist.

8. Colorado

Boulder, Colorado
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Colorado lands at the 8th position with a score of 55.24. It ranks 10th in direct work factors, demonstrating a strong commitment to productivity and performance in the workplace.

A 16th place matches the dedication in indirect work factors, which highlights an effective integration of work and leisure with its mid-tier rank. Moreover, the state’s ranking reflects the characteristic Coloradan pursuit of professional excellence alongside a love for outdoor adventure. That balance not only boosts job satisfaction but also increases overall life quality.

9. Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
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In the heartland of America, Kansas takes the 9th spot, scoring 55.22 overall. It positions 9th in direct work factors, indicative of steadfast dedication to their jobs.

With its 19th rank in indirect work factors, Kansas reflects a respectable work-life balance. Hence, the high rank in direct work factors and mid-tier ranking in the indirect work factors suggests that Kansans are mindful of leisure and personal time alongside their high job commitment.

10. Hawaii

Kahanamoku Lagoon Marina near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu Hawaii MSN
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Hawaii is more than a tropical paradise. It earns 10th place with a score of 54.88, which displays a unique work culture. Its 18th position in direct work factors reveals a diligent and productive workforce despite the laid-back island stereotype. But it’s in the indirect work factors where Hawaii truly excels, ranking 2nd. 

It is in the indirect work factors that Aloha State’s focus on wellness and life enjoyment shines through, impacting leisure and boosting work fulfillment. Indeed, Hawaiians seem to have mastered the balance between professionalism and personal well-being, which results in high job effectiveness. 

11. Maryland

Downtown Baltimore Maryland at night MSN
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Maryland, with a dynamic mix of urban and rural areas, claims the 11th rank with a score of 54.88. At 16th place in direct work factors, Maryland exhibits a workforce with engagement in their jobs. 

On the other hand, its 15th rank in indirect work factors speaks volumes about the state’s effective utilization of shorter commutes and leisure time to create a holistic work-life balance. These elements together contribute to a balanced environment that thrives on professional commitment and personal well-being.

12. Iowa

Des Moines Iowa skyline MSN
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Iowa lands the 12th spot with a score of 54.08. With a rich agricultural background, it ranks 17th in direct work factors, a testament to the strong work ethic deeply rooted in the Iowan culture.

Iowans balances this with its 9th rank in indirect work factors, which highlights a value system that appreciates life beyond work. Thus, in Iowa, dedication doesn’t stop at the workplace door but extends to making the most of personal time that creates a balanced, productive environment.

13. Georgia

Savannah, Georgia
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With its rich history and economic diversity, Georgia ranks 13th with a score of 54.03. It has a strong workforce commitment, evidenced by its high 8th spot ranking in direct work factors, which considers aspects like employment rate and hours worked.

Georgia’s lower rank of 35th in indirect work factors, including leisure and personal time variables, indicates a likely preference for work over leisure. It suggests that the hustle of cities like Atlanta may swing the balance more towards work, making leisure time less abundant.

14. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City
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Oklahoma is ranked 14th, with a total score of 53.77. It showcases a steadfast work culture and ranks 7th in direct and 46th in indirect work factors.

The contrast between the strong performance in direct work factors and the poor performance in indirect work factors suggests that work efficiency and productivity are prioritized. However, there might be less focus on the non-work elements that contribute to a balanced lifestyle. The data may point to long working hours or commutes that could impact the overall well-being of the state’s residents.

15. New Hampshire

Portsmouth, NH
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New Hampshire’s 15th place with a score of 53.21 indicates a well-rounded work-life approach. Its 13th ranking in direct work factors showcases strong job productivity and commitment. The state’s 18th ranking in indirect work factors highlights adequate leisure and personal life emphasis.

This balance suggests residents equally prioritize work and life outside of it. The close rankings in both categories imply a societal value on achieving a healthy work-life balance. Therefore, unlike scenarios where work significantly overshadows leisure, New Hampshire maintains a commendable balance.

16. Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee
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Tennessee, known for its musical roots and southern charm, rounds out the list at 16th with a total score of 53.04. With a rank of 12th in direct work factors, Tennesseans show notable dedication to their professions, significantly contributing to the state’s economic development.

On the other hand, at 24th for indirect work factors, there’s a clear note of the value of relaxation and life’s pleasures. The balance narrates the state’s dedication to work and upholding the value of nourishing life with Southern ease.

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