The Hardest-Working and Laziest States in the U.S.

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Man at desk working hard, sweating
ZouZou /

In some places and professions, people pride themselves on putting in long hours on the job and never taking a vacation. Elsewhere, it’s more about getting the job done and getting out to play. In some economies, no matter what the attitude toward work, there are not enough jobs to go around.

In a recent study, WalletHub made an effort to quantify where Americans are working the hardest and where they choose to have — or end up with — a lot more slack in their schedules.

Using data from a variety of sources the site ranked the 50 U.S. states from hardest-working to most leisurely — factoring average hours worked, vacation hours taken, volunteer work, youth idleness, the number of workers with multiple jobs and more. Think your state is among the hardest-working? You may be surprised …

1. Alaska

Fishermen on a boat in Homer
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Industrious Alaskans worked the most hours per week of all, and they reported having less leisure time per day than most Americans. But Alaska’s picture is complex. The state’s rate of employed workers is the lowest of any state. Also, WalletHub looked at data on “idle” youth — residents ages 16-24 who aren’t in school and aren’t working — and found, by that measure, Alaskan youths are among the most idle of any in the U.S., WalletHub says.

2. North Dakota

Farmer in harvester
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Those booming oil fields appear to have North Dakotans working overtime, clocking the second-highest average hours per workweek. However, they apparently take the proverb about “all work and no play” seriously, since residents also spent the third-highest amount of time on leisure each day. Youths take a page from their elders, with residents ages 16-24 among the least idle in the U.S., the report said. All that hard work gives North Dakota the second-highest employment rate of all the states.

3. Wyoming

Oil field scientist at work
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Wyoming workers are hustling: The state ranked third-highest for the average number of hours worked per week.

4. South Dakota

Statue of Wild Bill in Deadwood, South Dakota
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Hard work isn’t all about money. In addition to scoring high ranks on other factors that helped place it fourth overall, South Dakota residents shine for their high rate of volunteerism — the third-highest in the nation.

5. Nebraska

Lincoln, Nebraska historic district
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Nebraskans are a hard-working bunch, so it should come as no surprise that the state has the fifth-highest employment rate, according to WalletHub.

6. New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
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New Hampshire residents are pretty good at finding work, it seems, since their state has the third-highest rate of employment among the states. New Hampshire’s young people score alongside North Dakota’s as being among the least idle in the country, the report says.

7. Texas

Food trucks, Dallas, Texas
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Texas workers must not take a lot of long lunch breaks, since they logged the fourth most hours per workweek, according to WalletHub.

8. Colorado

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Colorado residents are among the nation’s hardest-working. Jobs there may not sit unfilled for long, as Colorado had the fourth-highest employment rate among U.S. states, according to WalletHub.

9. Virginia

Workers at Arlington Cemetery, Virginia
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Virginians are generous with their time and work. They scored fourth-highest among the states for volunteer hours worked per year.

10. Kansas

Kansas man with longhorn steer, agriculture
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Kansans work hard — rounding out the Top 10 states on the WalletHub list. The single biggest employers in the Sunflower State are the U.S. military, at Fort Riley, and the Sprint telecommunications company, each with about 12,500 workers, according to a Wichita blog.

But agriculture accounts for nearly half of the state’s economy, according to the state ag department’s website. And it says this sector employs “246,877 people through direct, indirect and induced effect careers, or 13% of the entire workforce in the state.”

11. Oklahoma

Military ammunition plant in Oklahoma
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By far and away the biggest employer in Oklahoma is the U.S. Department of Defense, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The next largest is Walmart.

12. Maryland

Port of Baltimore, Maryland tugboat
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Maryland still has a significant agricultural sector, and it has thriving commercial fishing, maritime and port activity on Chesapeake Bay. However, a full 25 percent of workers in Maryland are in white-collar technical and administrative fields, and, given the proximity to Washington, D.C., many of them are employed by the federal government, according to this breakdown of the state economy. The single largest employer in the Baltimore area is Johns Hopkins University and its multiple research facilities.

13. Hawaii

Lavender farmer in Hilo, Hawaii

People in the Aloha State use more time for leisure than most of us. Who could blame them, living in paradise? And yet, they don’t shirk their jobs for all that fun. The state’s employment rate was the highest found in the WalletHub study.

14. Iowa

Crop duster over a farm in Iowa
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Iowa’s young people are no slouches. The state has the lowest rate of youth idleness, according to WalletHub’s report.

15. Vermont

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Although Vermont workers clock among the fewest hours each workweek, on average they spend the least amount of time on leisure pursuits. Is that because so much of their time goes into shoveling snow?

16. Idaho

Potato sorters in Idaho
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Idaho ranked 16th in the nation for its residents’ hard work. The Potato State (also called the Gem State) had the fastest population growth in the nation as of December 2017.

17. Louisiana

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Residents of the Bayou State are a hard-working bunch. They rank fifth-highest for the number of hours per workweek. And yet, the state has one of the nation’s lower employment rates, and it ranks high for the share of young people who are “idle,” neither in school nor working.

18. Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota Diner
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Young Minnesotans are out there hustling and bustling. The state had the second-lowest rate of idle youth, in a five-way tie with Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and North Dakota.

19. Wisconsin

Wisconsin dairy signs
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Wisconsin residents are hard at work, but for many that’s not about pay. The state ranks No. 2 for the share of volunteer hours its residents volunteer in the service of others, according to WalletHub’s report.

20. Utah

Tractor working in Eagle Mountain, Utah
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Utah ranks in the middle overall as a hard-working state — perhaps because people there log the fewest hours per workweek at a job. But generous Utah residents rank highest of all states for the amount of volunteer hours worked. And it will come as no surprise that busy Utahns, as they’re known, don’t report spending much time on leisure.

21. Georgia

Taffy maker/vendor in Savannah, Georgia
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Most people in Georgia work in the service economy — things like hospitality, retail and tourism, according to economics teacher James Walsh on Overall, the state is a powerful economic hub in the South and the ninth-largest economy in the country, with large agricultural, manufacturing and military sectors. All told, Georgia lands roughly in the middle as a hard-working state.

22. Delaware

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Delaware residents enjoy the dubious distinction of ranking third in spending the least amount of time on leisure each day, WalletHub found.

23. Tennessee

Blue grass musicians in Tennessee
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Tennessee gets middling marks as a hard-working state, but that surely doesn’t account for all the hours aspiring musicians put into their craft for a shot at the limelight in Nashville or Memphis. Oddly, residents of the Volunteer State didn’t make the top five states for volunteer hours worked.

24. Indiana

Fort Wayne, Indiana auto worker
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Indiana is a “State That Works” according to the state’s marketing campaign that touts its tax, infrastructure and other advantages for businesses. Indiana ranked 24th for its hard-working residents, according to WalletHub.

25. New Jersey

Cafe Worker in new Jersey
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This Eastern Seaboard state ranks dead center between hardest-working and laziest states in the WalletHub study. Does that indicate its workers have achieved the elusive work-life balance?

26. Maine

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Traditionally, this New England state’s economy has been driven by agriculture and fishing industries. Increasingly, it relies on tourism — with people drawn from all over the country for its rocky coastline, scenic lakes and forests. It sort of makes sense that you wouldn’t move here to work your fingers to the bone.

27. Montana

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The state known as Big Sky Country ranks just in the bottom half of homes to hard-working residents. Maybe Montanans just want to ski.

28. South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
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South Carolina, with its beautiful coastal marshes and beaches, golf courses and historic cities like Charleston, gets high marks as a travel destination. Its residents apparently work hard enough to suit tourists and enjoy the place themselves.

29. North Carolina

Linemen working in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence
By MicheleMidnight /

North Carolina ranks just a notch below its neighbor South Carolina as a hard-working state. While major cities are rapidly growing tech and research hubs and home to a number of prestigious universities, it’s agriculture (especially tobacco cultivation) that remains a mainstay for the state economy and many of its residents. Now that sounds like hard work!

30. New York

Pizza kitchen in New York
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Despite the notorious hustle and bustle of New York City, the state overall ranks below the middle of the pack as a hard-working state. However, New York residents rank among the top five for the amount of hours spent in volunteer work.

31. Missouri

Construction workers in Missouri
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The Show-Me State ranks 31st for the hard work of its residents, according to the WalletHub study.

32. Mississippi

Shrimp boats in Biloxi, Mississippi
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Steamy Mississippi has its charms — and a notoriously slow pace of life. Residents here rank 32nd for hard work overall, and are near the bottom of the pack for volunteer hours.

33. Arkansas

Cotton plant up close.
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Arkansas is home to one of the country’s largest corporations, Walmart, which employs some 2.2 million people worldwide. Overall, though, the state has the highest rate of idle youths, ages 16-24. And it comes in second from last among the states for hours spent by residents on volunteer work, according to the WalletHub study.

34. California

Woman in San Francisco
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California has cities that are hubs of high tech, hospitality, agriculture, education and entertainment, and in which people have to be hard-working just to afford their rent. But overall, this large Pacific Coast state ranks only 34th for hard work. Maybe the surfing and good wine bring down the average?

35. Massachusetts

Man selling lobster
James Kirkikis /

Massachusetts is in a five-way tie for the honor of having the second-lowest (after Iowa) “idle youth rate,” as WalletHub puts it. The other three states sharing that tie for hard-working youths: Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Rhode Island.

36. Connecticut

Wooden barrel maker in Connecticut

Connecticut has been suffering “economic malaise” with a shrinking economy in recent years, the Hartford Courant reported. Personal income is declining there even as job numbers have grown because the jobs being created are “systematically of lower quality” than the ones that disappeared during the recession, the report said.

37. Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
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Illinois’ 37th-place ranking for hard-working residents may be in part due to a mismatch between unemployed people and available jobs. With growth in many key sectors, the state faces a shortage of workers with the skills needed to fill positions in skilled trades, The Chicago Tribune reports. The report says sales representatives, engineers and drivers among the hardest roles to fill.

38. Washington

Young tech workers
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The Northwest state boasts a booming tech sector and generally robust economy, but if WalletHub’s ranking is an indication, it does not have the hardest-working residents by a long shot.

39. Florida

Bartender at the beach
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You didn’t expect the Sunshine State to attract workaholics, did you?

40. Arizona

Worker in greenhouse
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Arizona’s unemployment rate, though falling, is 4.6 percent, reported. That’s higher than the national rate of 3.9 percent and the rates in all of its neighboring states.

41. Alabama

Fisherman off the coast of Alabama
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Alabama ranked in the bottom 10 for hard-working residents. The state also ranks low for health, higher education, infrastructure and opportunity, according to U.S. News and World Report. But on the upside, Alabama was among the most affordable states and has some of the best drinking water in the country.

42. Pennsylvania

Coal worker in private mine in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania’s economic growth has been “anemic” in the last few years compared with that of the nation, according to a columnist at Pennlive. The state’s number of manufacturing jobs has been shrinking, even as the nation’s manufacturing sector has grown as a whole, he said. That may help explain the low ranking of the state’s residents for hard work.

43. Kentucky

Horse barn in Lexington, Kentucky
James Kirkikis /

Kentucky is not the land of hard workers, at least according to WalletHub’s study. It also ranked dead last among the 50 states for the amount of volunteer hours residents spend per year.

44. Nevada

Gondoliers at Las Vegas hotel
BrandonKleinVideo /

Home to tourist destinations like the Grand Canyon and raucous Las Vegas, Nevada turns out to be a state with less than the hardest-working residents. One factor: The state also ranks among the lowest for volunteerism.

45. Ohio

Cable workers on a bridge in Ohio
Lonnie Kunkel /

Ohio, with its experienced manufacturing workforce and its strength in many economic sectors, including bioscience and green technology, lands near the bottom of the pack overall in this study. It doesn’t stand out for hard work, long hours or volunteerism. But its scores mean any problems it may have with low employment or youth idleness may not be among the worst in the nation, either.

46. Oregon

Brewer at work in Oregon
BJoshua Rainey Photography /

Oregon may be home to Nike and other business powerhouses, but its residents have one of the lowest rates of hours worked per week in the WalletHub study.

47. New Mexico

Mariachi player in Albuquerque, New Mexico
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New Mexico pops out in the WalletHub study for several reasons: The employment rate there is among the nation’s lowest, and the state has one of the highest rates of young people who are neither working nor in school. However, at the same time, New Mexico residents are among those spending the least time on leisure pursuits.

48. West Virginia

Steam train, West Virginia
Carol Ann Mossa /

West Virginia is hurting from a double whammy. It has one of the lowest employment rates of any state and the greatest rate of youths who are “idle” — neither working nor in school, according to the WalletHub report.

49. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Nagel Photography /

Even though the state ranks 49th for hard-working residents overall, its young people are an exception. WalletHub’s report puts the state in a five-way tie for having the second-lowest rate of idle youths, along with North Dakota, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

At the same time, residents of Rhode Island put in among the fewest volunteer hours per year, and spend the most time per day on leisure of all 50 states, according to the study.

50. Michigan

Detroit, Michigan
Linda Parton /

Michigan brings up the rear on this list in part, apparently, because its residents work among the fewest hours each week, on average, of those in any of the other 49 states. Maybe because they find it hard to fill their weeks with work, Michigan residents spend an abundance of time on leisure, the report shows.

How do workers in your state stack up? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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