The 10 Best States for Working Families

Happy young family of three smiling while spending free time outdoors
G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Zippia.

The median income for middle-class families hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

In addition, the middle class is struggling to save for retirement. Between paying for a home and day care costs, many middle-class families are relying on borrowing money rather than saving it.

However, some states treat working families better than others. We set out to find the states where child care is affordable, workers have more free time, and owning a house isn’t just an American dream, it’s a reality.

We ranked each state in five categories:

  • Quality of public schools
  • Percentage of median income that covers day care costs
  • Average home price
  • Amount of hours worked
  • Median commute length

The factors we looked at can be put into two categories: Time and affordability. Trying to balance working and raising a family is hard — it strains your free time and your wallet. We sought to identify the states where working families have a bit more extra cash in their pockets and a little extra time Mom or Dad can use as they please.

We used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) to determine the median commute length and the average amount of hours worked. The less time spent on the freeway or on the clock, the better for work-life balance.

We used data from BusinessBroker.net to estimate day care costs. To determine where working families were struggling to afford child care, we compared the percentage of median income to the average day care cost in each state.

We then examined the median housing cost in each state, once again from the ACS. Finally, we used WalletHub school rankings to evaluate the free public education system available.

Based on our analysis, following are the best states for working families.

10. Idaho

Boise, Idaho
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 17%
Average hours worked weekly: 39
Average home price: $192,300

At No. 10, Idaho still has some impressive stats that draw in a lot of working families. The average day care costs only account for 17% of monthly income here, which is the ninth-lowest percentage.

Another impressive feat is the state’s average commute, which is 20.7 minutes, also ranking the state ninth best.

9. Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 19%
Average hours worked weekly: 38
Average home price: $146,200

Michigan comes in at No. 9. While average day care costs only account for 19% of monthly income, that’s not the best thing about this state.

Actually, the cost of homes is what might be turning many middle-class families’ heads. The state average home price is $146,200, which is the 11th lowest of the states. With prices like that, you might be able to start a college fund for your kids.

8. Utah

Boy reaching for an icicle, on a cabin porch in Utah mountains
Johnny Adolphson / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 20%
Average hours worked weekly: 37
Average home price: $256,700

With lots of outdoor activities to do with the family, Utah is eighth on the list.

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to teach your kids how to snowboard, especially with the average 37-hour workweek. The workweeks here are the lowest in the U.S.

7. Vermont

Vermont couple walking in park in Autumn
Sergii Kovalov / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 21%
Average hours worked weekly: 38
Average home price: $223,700

In addition to having access to fresh maple syrup, Vermont is great for middle-class families for other reasons.

A major one that comes to mind is that the average workweek here is only 38 hours, which ranks Vermont No. 2 in the country.

6. Montana

Livingston, Montana
Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 20%
Average hours worked weekly: 38
Average home price: $219,600

Montana is next on the list. What makes this state so great is its average workweek.

People here only work 38 hours on average every week, which is the fifth shortest workweek in the U.S.

5. North Dakota

North Dakota
Olga Enger / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 16%
Average hours worked weekly: 40
Average home price: $185,000

North Dakota is the fifth-best place for working families to reside.

This isn’t surprising, especially since day care costs only take up 16% of the monthly income. Plus, the state has the second-lowest average commute time, 17.1 minutes.

4. Ohio

Lake Erie
David Prahl / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 19%
Average hours worked weekly: 39
Average home price: $140,000

With the eighth-lowest average home cost of $140,000 in the U.S., Ohio pops up at No. 4.

The state also lends itself to a good work-life balance with the average workweek being only 39 hours. Your family may get tired of spending so much time with you in Ohio.

3. Iowa

Iowa farm
By Dan Thornberg / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 19%
Average hours worked weekly: 39
Average home price: $142,300

The third best state in the U.S. for working families is Iowa.

From day care only taking up 19% of the monthly income to only working 39 hours a week, you’re able to take care of your family while being able to spend as much time with them as possible.

A nice little bonus of living here is that homes average a cost of $142,300, which is the ninth-lowest in the country.

2. Nebraska

Nebraska city scene
Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 18%
Average hours worked weekly: 40
Average home price: $147,800

Nebraska comes in second when it comes to providing a family friendly atmosphere for middle-class families.

While an average home only costs $147,800 here, the best part is the commute.

The average commute in Nebraska is 18.6 minutes, which just happens to be the fifth-shortest in the country.

1. Kentucky

A historic district of Louisville, Kentucky
Philip Rozenski / Shutterstock.com

Monthly day care costs as a percentage of median income: 17%
Average hours worked weekly: 39
Average home price: $135,300

Kentucky is the best state for working families. From working 39 hours a week to only 17% of family monthly income going toward day care, it’s easy to see why it’s such a great place for families.

Perhaps the most family friendly aspect of this state is its average home cost of $135,300. That’s the fifth-lowest in the country!

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