Wyoming Ranks as One of the Hardest Working States in the U.S., Study Finds

‘We work hard and play hard,’ says Wyoming Business Council staffer

Pictured above is a map of the U.S. states, color coded by hardest working rankings, according to WalletHub’s new study. The darker colors signify the top ranked hardest working states, which include Wyoming, while the lighter colors indicate the least hardest working states. (Courtesy graphic from WalletHub)

By Shen Wu Tan

Special to the Wyoming Truth

Come Labor Day, it seems Wyomingites could use a well-deserved rest from their jobs, as researchers have ranked the Cowboy State as one of the hardest working states in a new national study.

Wyoming placed fifth overall in the WalletHub survey with a score of 61.42, trailing behind only North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota and Nebraska.

“Even as the least-populated state in the country, Wyoming has a lot of hard workers,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for WalletHub, told the Wyoming Truth. “For example, it ranks third overall for the average work week hours, with citizens working around 39.9 hours per week. It also places sixth for its percentage of workers with multiple jobs. That means 6.7% of the state’s total number of employees have at least two jobs.”

The study, published Aug. 28, compared the 50 U.S. states for both direct and indirect work factors, using 10 key metrics which were graded on a 100-point scale. Researchers then calculated each state’s weighted average across these metrics.

The metrics were average work week hours, employment rate, share of households where no adults work, share of workers leaving vacation time unused, share of engaged workers, idle youth, average commute time, share of workers with multiple jobs, annual volunteer hours per resident and average leisure time spent per day.

Researchers collected data for the study from multiple sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Wyoming had a 96.43% employment rate and a 9% idle youth rate. The study also found that Wyoming had a 26.04% share of households where no adults work, 24.7% share of workers leaving vacation time unused and 33% share of engaged workers. Additionally, the average commute time is 18.1 minutes in Wyoming, and residents enjoy an average of 313 minutes of leisure time per day. The study found 33.27 annual volunteer hours per resident.

“A large number of Wyomingites volunteer in their communities and have more than one job,” said Anne Alexander, assistant dean of the College of Business at the University of Wyoming. “Average hours worked per week is probably higher in Wyoming because many of our jobs and professions require both official and unofficial overtime. And we probably don’t take all of our earned vacation time, because it can be difficult to travel for long stretches of the year during winter months.”

Wyoming ranked as the fifth hardest working state in the U.S., according to a new national study by WalletHub. (Courtesy graphic from WalletHub) 

Wenlin Liu, chief economist for the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, said he is not entirely surprised by Wyoming’s ranking.

“It appears that most states that ranked higher are associated with a large proportion of agriculture, or tourism, or perhaps military,” Liu told the Wyoming Truth. “Their percentage of part-time and multi-job holders are high, and most of these multi-jobs are lower wage ones, such as in farm, retail trade, leisure and hospitality and social assistance services.”

Figures from the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division illustrate an average of 41.1 work week hours for the state in 2022. The data also revealed that 64.6% of the population 16 years and older were in the labor force as of July. 

For the WalletHub study, North Dakota ranked as the hardest working state with a score of 67.68. New Mexico ranked as the least hardest working state with a score of 33.24.

Tongyang Yang, an assistant professor of economics at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, said contributing factors driving Wyoming’s top ranking are its highest annual volunteer hours per resident, its third-highest average work week hours and its third-lowest average leisure time spent per day. 

“With more people employed and working long hours and more people being self-employed workers in family or own businesses relative to other states, all these factors contribute to Wyoming being the fifth hardest working state in the nation,” she said.

Gonzalez, the WalletHub analyst, noted Wyoming has ranked in the top 10 for hardest working states in previous studies, but that the methodology is updated each year. Wyoming placed 10th last year, sixth in 2021 and third in 2020.

“Our legacy is based on hard work in natural resources, agriculture and innovation,” Ron Gullberg, strategic partnerships director for the Wyoming Business Council, told the Wyoming Truth. “We also live here because of the quality of life and open spaces. We work hard and play hard.”

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