The Most Overworked States in the US

Working hard, or hardly working? researched which states put in the most (and the least) hours on the job every week.

Working long hours—and alternately complaining and bragging about it—is a uniquely American thing. Blue collar, white collar, crew neck T-shirt collar . . . doesn’t matter: the US now puts in more hours on the job, and takes out fewer for vacations and retirement, than any other country in the industrialized world.1 Maybe our new rallying cry should be “Make America Take a Break Again.”

But how do American workers stack up against themselves? With a little help from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey,2 worked a reasonable number of hours to compile state-by-state comparisons of who’s laboring longest in our 50+ territories. The information gathered came from workers aged 16 to 64 who’ve participated in the workforce within the past 12 months and included both full- and part-time statuses.


Some interesting correlations among our findings:

  • Alaska works the most hours (41.6 hours per week).
  • Alaskan men contribute most to that total (44.5 hours per week).
  • Women work longest in Washington DC (38.9 hours per week).
  • Utah works the least (37.3 hours per week).
  • Women work least in Utah (33.2 hours per week).
  • Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island men work the least (three-way tie: 40 hours per week).
  • Washington DC has the smallest work gap between genders (women: 38.9 hours per week; men: 41.3; difference: 2.4).
  • North Dakota has the largest work gap between genders (men: 43.7 hours per week; women: 36; difference: 7.7).
  • Utah has the second largest work gap between genders (men: 40.6 hours per week; women: 33.2; difference: 7.4).
  • Across the board, women work fewer hours than men, and most women work part-time.
  • Oil industry workers put in the most hours; healthcare workers put in the least.

How proud, or defensive, you are about your state’s stats probably hints at your measure of buy-in for the traditional American ethos of “more is always better,” the idea that if you’re not working at least 40 hours a week, you’re a Lebowski-level layabout. Also, if your reaction to the international fact that the US falls behind only Japan in professional burnout and stress is “We have to catch up! U-S-A! U-S-A!” you might be part of the overworked Americans problem.3

The top 10 states that work the most
StateHours worked per week
North Dakota40.2
Washington DC40.1
South Dakota39.7

Many of these states are among the top crude oil producers in the country,4 which lines up with oil workers toiling for longer hours; all lean toward the industrial end of the occupational scale. As for Washington DC, everyone’s familiar with how time-consuming bureaucracy can be.

The top 10 states that work the least
StateHours worked per week
Rhode Island37.3
New Mexico38

Ironically, Utah’s motto is “Industry,” and one of its state emblems is the hardworking honeybee. Once again proving consistent with our research, the rest are healthcare-heavy profession states—except for California, which is mostly about producing computers, electronics, and Real Housewives spin-offs.

While there’s much talk and opinionating about the demise of the standard 40-hour workweek, our research shows that, at best, US employees have only killed off about 2.7 hours of it. It could also be argued that women are simply working smarter, not longer, than their male counterparts and that everybody should establish a work-life balance and take advantage of their vacation days as often as possible. Burnout is no badge of honor.

Are you working more than your state’s hours indicate? Or less? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. ABC News, “Americans Work More than Anyone
  2. United States Census Bureau, “Household Income: 2016
  3. The Busy Lifestyle, “6 New Stress Statistics from Around the World
  4. US Energy Information Administration, “US Production of Crude Oil Grew 5% in 2017, Likely Leading to Record 2018 Production