12 Best States for Workers: 2023

12 Best States for Workers: 2023

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American workers, especially women and young people, are feeling less enthusiastic about their jobs and less purposeful about their work lives, according to a report released Tuesday by Peak Sales Recruiting.

In 2020, 36% of workers were engaged at work. This dropped to 34% in 2021 and to 32% in 2022, the first declines in employee engagement in a decade, according to the report.

With the layoffs, hiring freezes and remote-work conflicts of the past two years — to say nothing of the 335 strikes and labor protests in 2023 — it’s not surprising that employees are feeling anxious.

As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, business leaders have an opportunity to gain an advantage over their competitors by adapting to modern worker needs to hire the best people, Peak Sales Recruiting said. And workers still have a chance to seek higher wages, more purpose and a better work-life balance. 

To determine which states are best and worst for workers, Peak Sales Recruiting analyzed the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Census Bureau, the Tax Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Researchers factored eight metrics into their analysis: 

Job growth: BLS, September 2023
GDP growth: BEA, Q4 2022-Q1 2023 
Union representation: BLS, 2022 
Average work week: Census Bureau, 2022 
Commute times: Census Bureau, 2022 
Remote work: Census Bureau, 2022 
Average sales and local tax rate: Tax Foundation, 2023 
Earnings ratio: MIT’s Living Wage Calculation; Census Bureau, 2022

The earnings ratio measures the living wage needed to support a family against the median wage — workers in states with higher earnings ratios may have more disposable income.

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See the accompanying gallery for the 12 best states for workers. The scores presented are z-scores, showing how many standard deviations above average each state scored.

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