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New Research Unveils the States with the Happiest and Unhappiest Employees in America

  • A new nationwide happiness index reveals which states are home to the most satisfied employees, with Alaska crowned the winning state

  • The index evaluates each state based on wages, quit rates, commute times, working hours, injuries, paid time off, and state positivity levels

  • While Alaska excels for annual wage, commute times and quit rates, other high performers include North Dakota, Nebraska and Rhode Island

  • The state with the unhappiest employees is Georgia, while Florida and Texas also have some of the least satisfied workforces

New research has named Alaska as the state with the happiest employees, while Georgia faces challenges with the worst job satisfaction. The ranking, created by HR technology experts at SelectSoftware Reviews, measured performance in key metrics across all 50 states, and awarded each a happiness score out of 100 to reveal where is best and worst for job satisfaction.

The index evaluated factors such as annual wages, quit rates, injuries, commute times, PTO (paid time off) laws, weekly working hours, and general state happiness scores out of 300.

Alaska has clinched the title as the state with the happiest employees, boasting shorter average workweeks of 31.3 hours, a generous average wage of $52,000 per annum, and an overall job satisfaction score of 69.96.

The state with the highest average wage came out as Massachusetts at $58,450 per annum, meaning Alaska comes close with only a 7.5% difference.

Second place, at a total score of 56.64, is Rhode Island. With a thriving job market, available PTO laws and a modest quit rate of 2.4%, it also has the lowest injury rate of any state with only five fatal incidences reported in the previous year.

North Dakota ranked third with a score of 56.40, thanks to its comfortable annual wage of $47,400 and a short average commute of just 17.6 minutes.

In comparison, the longest commute came out as 33.5 minutes in New York. Longer commutes can be detrimental to employee morale, as they significantly extend the workday, while problems like heavy traffic can increase overall stress.

Colorado upholds a comfortable average wage of $50,250, with modest injury and quit rates and consistently below-average working hours of 39.4 per week, securing a total score of 55.76.

Despite its above-average working week at 40.2 hours, Minnesota is next on the list. With a low quit rate of 1.8% and generous PTO laws, it scores 55.26.

Completing the top ten for highest employee satisfaction is Nebraska earning a solid 54.91, Maine with a score of 53.98, Ohio at 52.02, Arizona with 51.69 and Indiana accumulating a total of 48.84.

In contrast, Georgia came out as the worst-performing state for job satisfaction, scoring an overall 29.62. It has the highest quit rate, 3.6%, of any contender, ranks poorly for general state happiness and grapples with an average commute time of 28.7 minutes.

In Texas, a considerable challenge arises with a staggering 533 fatal workplace injuries per year, coupled with the second-longest average working week, trailing only behind Louisiana, at 43.6 hours. These factors contribute to an overall score of 30.36.

Florida comes next with a total of 30.46. Taking home an average wage of $38,470, coupled with a long working week of 41.5 hours, the average Floridian only earns $18 p/h compared to the $32 p/h earned in Alaska. This and the state’s lack of PTO laws bring down overall employee satisfaction.

In the heart of the Big Apple, despite holding the third-highest average wage at $52,470, New York holds a high injury rate - causing over 247 fatalities last year - and the longest commute time of any state. Consequently, accumulating a final score of 31.51.

Employees in South Carolina encounter significant challenges, earning notably $13,000 less than their Alaskan counterparts, at $38,870. South Carolina not only ranks poorly in overall state happiness, but also sustains a high quit rate of 3.1%. Meaning, it wrestles a total employee satisfaction score of 31.65.

Completing the top ten states with the least satisfied employees is Alabama at 32.68, closely followed by Pennsylvania at 33.14 and Virginia at 33.26. New Jersey scores 34.09, along with New Mexico rounding out the list at 34.25.

Phil Strazzulla, CEO of SelectSoftware Reviews, commented: “These insights reaffirm the significance of prioritizing employee well-being in the modern work landscape, particularly in the states that performed the worst for job satisfaction.

“Although many people might assume that a job is the same wherever you are, these results demonstrate the considerable impact a location can have on how workers feel about their job, whether that is due to state laws, commute times, or wages. It emphasises the importance for employers to create environments where employees find genuine fulfilment and can thrive.”


All data is correct as of September 2023. Sources included: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Stats America, Bankrate, Paycor and Scholaroo.



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