USA Life-Work
Balance Index
by state

The United States of America is one of the most overworked nations in the world. But which US states are the best at putting life before work? 

The importance of work-life balance has come into sharper focus since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to reevaluate the divide between our work and personal lives, with the eyes of many employees opened to the benefits of a flexible work environment. 

In particular, American employees seem to be increasingly concerned about work-life balance. With 60% of US workers claiming they struggle to create a boundary between work and home life, their physical and emotional health can suffer as a result.

A healthy life-work balance is about creating a harmonious relationship between our careers and personal lives so that we can excel at our jobs without negatively impacting our wellbeing. Hybrid or remote work is a great start, but it’s not the only measure of a good life-work balance. To measure balance accurately, a variety of factors need to be taken into account. 

We’ve conducted an index data analysis to reveal the top US states in which to live and work in the United States for a strong life-work balance. We’ve considered a shortlist of critical factors including healthcare, minimum wage, maternity leave, statutory annual leave, sick pay, average hours worked per week, overall happiness levels, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity to paint a clear picture. 

Which states come out on top? Read on to find out.

Top 10 US states for life-work balance

Here are the top 10 states in the United States of America that can offer you the best life-work balance. These 10 US states achieved the highest scores out of 100 in our index analysis: 

Overall
rank
US State
& capital city
2022
population
Index
score / 100
Statutory
annual
leave
(days)
Minimum
statutory
sick leave
(days)
Paid maternity
leave and
payment rate
(weeks and wage %)
Minimum
wage
(USD/hr)
Healthcare
system
Happiness
index
(out of 10)
Average
hours
worked
(per week)
LGBTQ+
inclusivity
(out of 10)
1Connecticut,
Hartford
3,612,31466.860512
95
14non-universal insurance system6.9839.29
2Washington,
Olympia
7,901,42962.790512
90
14.49non-universal insurance system6.9840.99
3New York,
Albany
20,365,87962.750512
67
13.2non-universal insurance system6.9839.89
4California,
Sacramento
39,995,07761.26068
60
15non-universal insurance system6.9841.49
5Rhode Island,
Providence
1,106,34159.520513
0
12.25non-universal insurance system6.9838.68
6New Jersey,
Trenton
9,388,41459.220524
66
10.9non-universal insurance system6.9841.39
7Oregon,
Salem
4,318,49258.47050
0
12.5non-universal insurance system6.9838.39
8Vermont,
Montpelier
646,54558.02050
0
12.55non-universal insurance system6.98388
9Maine,
Augusta
1,369,15955.66050
0
12.75non-universal insurance system6.9840.19
10Massachusetts,
Boston
7,126,37552.99050
0
14.25non-universal insurance system6.9841.38
1

Connecticut

Overall index score: 66.86

Characterized by its beautiful fall foliage, Connecticut is home to some of the country’s top colleges and universities, the most notable of which is Yale University. It’s also the birthplace of many of the great American inventions — including the helicopter, the Polaroid camera, and the hamburger!

Connecticut comes out on top in our life-work balance index due to its combination of a generous minimum wage (which at $14 per hour is 34% above the national average), 12 weeks of statutory maternity leave (only two states offer more), and full marks for LGBTQ+ inclusivity. It’s also the only state to offer a 95% maternity payment rate.

2

Washington

Overall index score: 62.79

Known for its snow-capped mountains and national parks, the state of Washington also boasts the largest concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) talent in the US. Some of America’s most well-known brands such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks are headquartered here, too.

Washington-based workers are paid a minimum wage of $14.49 — second only to California — while women on maternity leave receive a 90% payment contribution. It’s also a very LGBTQ+-friendly state in which to work. Furthermore, Washington is one of only seven US states that does not levy a personal income tax.

3

New York

Overall index score: 62.75

Unsurprisingly, the iconic New York City — considered to be the world’s leading financial center — and its surrounding metropolitan area dominate the economy of New York state. In fact, its GDP of $2 trillion puts it way ahead of any other state in the US, and behind that of only nine countries. It’s also home to the world’s highest concentration of billionaires. 

The state of New York matches most other entries in the top 10 for statutory sick day entitlement, while it offers 12 weeks of statutory maternity leave and a 67% payment contribution for new mothers. This high-paced city-state also scores highly on LGBTQ+ rights, and workers receive a minimum wage of $13.20 per hour — 28% above the national average.

4

California

Overall index score: 61.26

With a population approaching 40 million, the “Golden State” of California is the most populous state in the US. It’s also home to the iconic technology hub referred to as Silicon Valley, with some of the world’s most valuable tech companies — including Google, Apple, and Meta — headquartered there. 

California scores highly in our life-work balance index chiefly due to its generous minimum wage of $15 per hour — more than any other state in the country — while it’s also the only state to offer more than five days’ minimum statutory sick pay and one of the few to offer statutory maternity leave. Californians are hard workers, though, clocking up 41.4 hours per week on average.

5

Rhode Island

Overall index score: 59.52

The smallest state in the US by land area, Rhode Island has the lowest population (around 1.1 million) of all the states in our top 10. Known for its scenic shoreline and colonial seaside towns, its major industries are healthcare, tourism, financial services, manufacturing, and education. It’s also renowned for the production of silverware and fine jewelry.

The “Ocean State” offers 13 weeks of statutory maternity leave (although no statutory maternity pay) and a reasonably high minimum wage of $12.25 per hour. Its average working week of 38.6 hours is 5% shorter than the national average, while it also meets 8 out of the 9 criteria for LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

6

New Jersey

Overall index score: 59.22

Nicknamed the “Garden State”, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the US. Often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbor, New York, NJ is known for its beaches and boardwalks as well as a renowned culinary heritage and a thriving wine industry. Pharmaceuticals and life sciences are the primary contributors to its GDP. 

New Jersey is the only state in the US to offer 24 weeks of statutory maternity leave (no other state offers more than 12), while also offering 66% maternity pay during that period. The minimum wage of $10.90 is the lowest of the top 10, but still 9% higher than the US average. New Jersey’s workforce is typically pretty busy, however: they put in an average of 41 hours per week. 

7

Oregon

Overall index score: 58.47

A state synonymous with the old Wild West, Oregon nowadays is known for its rocky coastline, lush green forests, diverse wildlife, and easygoing culture. However, it’s also one of the most expensive US states in which to live. That said, it does boast America’s deepest lake, the world’s smallest park, and the largest cheese factory on the planet!

Oregon’s state-wide minimum wage is comfortably above the national average, while it scores full marks for LGBTQ+ friendliness. That ‘easygoing’ culture also extends to their attitude to work: Oregon’s workers typically clock up 38.3 hours per week, which is around 6% fewer than the rest of the country.

8

Vermont

Overall index score: 58.02

Known as the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Vermont is a combination of natural beauty and small-town charm, with lush green mountains and various snow and ski resorts. Vermont’s gross regional GDP ranks as the second smallest among all 50 states, but it’s still among the top places to work in the US from a life-work balance perspective.

Vermont makes the top 10 due to a minimum wage of around 23% above the national average, five days of statutory sick pay, and a generally LQBTQ+ inclusive work environment. Workers in Vermont know when it’s time to clock off, too: their average working week of 38 hours is the shortest in the top 10, and one of the shortest in the country overall. 

9

Maine

Overall index score: 55.66

Often synonymous with lobster and lighthouses and boasting over 4,000 miles of rocky coastline, Maine has the second lowest population (around 1.4 million) of the states in our top 10. L. L. Bean — one of the world’s most famous outdoor retailers — and the brewing company Shipyard are based in the so-called “Pine Tree State”.

In terms of life-work balance, people in Maine are supported with a healthy state-wide minimum wage of $12.75, as well as five days of statutory sick pay. It also scores perfect marks for LQBTQ+ inclusivity. Workers in Maine clock up 40.1 hours of work per week on average, which is just a touch below the average for the US overall. 

10

Massachusetts

Overall index score: 52.99

As a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, and finance, Massachusetts is also renowned as a center for higher education. The country’s oldest and most prestigious university, Harvard, is based in Cambridge, MA, and the state boasts the highest degree-educated population in the US. 

Massachusetts makes the top 10 list due to its generous minimum wage of $14.25 — 35% higher than the national average and the third highest in the country — and minimum statutory sick pay of five days per year. Expect to put in at least 41 hours a week if you work in Massachusetts, as it’s one of the busiest states in our top 10.

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What is life-work balance and why is it so important? 

Life-work balance is a working culture that understands that life should come before work — you’ll most often hear it called work-life balance, but we very deliberately refer to it the other way around. Our health (both physical and mental), our family commitments, and our leisure time should all take priority over our careers, and the demands put on us by our employers should never compromise our wellbeing. By putting life ahead of work, we hope to reframe worldwide conversations about how we spend our time.

A healthy life-work balance means you’re able to thrive in your chosen career without it negatively impacting other areas of your life. You should be able to comfortably meet deadlines and satisfy the expectations of your employer without having to put in regular overtime or be ‘switched on’ at all hours of the day. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case — especially in the United States, which is considered to be the most overworked nation in the developed world. The average American works 1,767 hours per year, which is significantly higher than many other nations, including most of Europe — you can learn more about life-work balance in Europe in our European Life-Work Balance Index

More than three-quarters of full-time US workers have experienced burnout at their jobs, and this imbalance between life and work can lead to a host of negative consequences for physical and emotional health — not to mention your social life!

Businesses that commit to ensuring their employees can enjoy a healthy life-work balance are likely to have a more engaged — and consequently more productive — workforce, while employees who take care of their physical health are less likely to take sick days, too.

Here at Remote, we understand the importance of work-life balance, and we champion companies and organizations that prioritize employee wellbeing — we want to help as many people as possible to enjoy rewarding and fulfilling careers. 

Whether you’re in the US and looking to relocate, or you’re an overseas employer thinking about hiring remotely in the US, see how our employer of record service can help. 

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Relocation

Relocating to another country is incredibly exciting — that is until you get to the nitty gritty details of what it takes to make the move happen. But don’t worry, we've created a program specifically for you and your employees to make the process seamless.

Empower employees to work where they feel best

Work from anywhere in the world

Remote work means working from anywhere, not just working from home. Select a place to relocate your employee from the list of countries shown below and leave the rest to us!

Argentina

Capital: Buenos Aires

Currency: Argentine peso ($, ARS)

Official Languages: Spanish

Belguim

Capital: Brussels

Currency: EURO (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch, French, German

Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв., BGN)

Official Languages: Bulgarian

Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

Currency: Croatian kuna (kn, HRK)

Official Languages: Croatian

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Currency: Czech koruna (Kč, CZK)

Official Languages: Czech

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish krone (kr., DKK)

Official Languages: Danish

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish

France

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: French

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: German

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg City

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French

Mauritius

Coming Soon

Capital: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritian rupee (¢, MUR)

Official Languages: Mauritian Creole, French, English

Mexico

Capital: Mexico City

Currency: Mexican peso ($, MXN)

Official Languages: Spanish

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch (official language), Frisian (official language in Frisia)

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Currency: Norwegian krone (kr, NOK)

Official Languages: Norwegian

Panama

Capital: Panama City

Currency: Panamanian balboa (B/., PAB)

Official Languages: Spanish

Peru

Capital: Lima

Currency: Peruvian sol (S/., PEN)

Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Portuguese

South Africa

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative)

Currency: South African Rand (R, ZAR)

Official Languages: English and 10 others

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Currency: Swedish krona (kr, SEK)

Official Languages: Swedish

Argentina

Capital: Buenos Aires

Currency: Argentine peso ($, ARS)

Official Languages: Spanish

Belguim

Capital: Brussels

Currency: EURO (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch, French, German

Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв., BGN)

Official Languages: Bulgarian

Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

Currency: Croatian kuna (kn, HRK)

Official Languages: Croatian

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Currency: Czech koruna (Kč, CZK)

Official Languages: Czech

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish krone (kr., DKK)

Official Languages: Danish

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish

France

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: French

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: German

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg City

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French

Mauritius

Coming Soon

Capital: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritian rupee (¢, MUR)

Official Languages: Mauritian Creole, French, English

Mexico

Capital: Mexico City

Currency: Mexican peso ($, MXN)

Official Languages: Spanish

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch (official language), Frisian (official language in Frisia)

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Currency: Norwegian krone (kr, NOK)

Official Languages: Norwegian

Panama

Capital: Panama City

Currency: Panamanian balboa (B/., PAB)

Official Languages: Spanish

Peru

Capital: Lima

Currency: Peruvian sol (S/., PEN)

Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Portuguese

South Africa

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative)

Currency: South African Rand (R, ZAR)

Official Languages: English and 10 others

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Currency: Swedish krona (kr, SEK)

Official Languages: Swedish

Argentina

Capital: Buenos Aires

Currency: Argentine peso ($, ARS)

Official Languages: Spanish

Belguim

Capital: Brussels

Currency: EURO (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch, French, German

Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв., BGN)

Official Languages: Bulgarian

Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

Currency: Croatian kuna (kn, HRK)

Official Languages: Croatian

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Currency: Czech koruna (Kč, CZK)

Official Languages: Czech

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish krone (kr., DKK)

Official Languages: Danish

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish

France

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: French

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: German

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg City

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French

Mauritius

Coming Soon

Capital: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritian rupee (¢, MUR)

Official Languages: Mauritian Creole, French, English

Mexico

Capital: Mexico City

Currency: Mexican peso ($, MXN)

Official Languages: Spanish

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch (official language), Frisian (official language in Frisia)

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Currency: Norwegian krone (kr, NOK)

Official Languages: Norwegian

Panama

Capital: Panama City

Currency: Panamanian balboa (B/., PAB)

Official Languages: Spanish

Peru

Capital: Lima

Currency: Peruvian sol (S/., PEN)

Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Portuguese

South Africa

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative)

Currency: South African Rand (R, ZAR)

Official Languages: English and 10 others

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Currency: Swedish krona (kr, SEK)

Official Languages: Swedish

What relocation assistance means for your business

Are we making work from anywhere sound easy? That's because it can be. We have the services to help you relocate to where you want and make the entire process as seamless as possible!

  • Visa
    guidance and
    sponsorship

  • Local
    immigration and
    tax guidance

  • Relocation and
    settling-in
    assistance

  • Insurance

  • Cross-cultural
    training

Download your Remote Relocation Guide

Learn how to simplify your planned relocation with this walkthrough guide. We outline the key steps for you and your employer to enable a compliant, efficient, and hassle-free move.

Download

Methodology

Employer of record specialists, Remote, conducted this index data analysis to reveal which US States offer employees the best life-work balance. 

The study reviewed the following indicators:

  • Statutory annual leave (total days of paid leave, including public holidays)
  • Minimum statutory sick leave (sick days available)
  • Statutory maternity leave (weeks paid)
  • Statutory maternity leave payment rate (percent of wage)
  • Minimum wage (USD per hour)
  • Healthcare status
  • Happiness index score (1-10, 10 being highest)
  • Average hours worked per week
  • LGBTQ+ Inclusivity (0-9, 9 being highest to reflect LGBTQ+ legislation and treatment across employment, housing, education, public accommodations, anti-conversion therapy, school anti-bullying, gender marker updates on ID documents, hate crimes and transgender healthcare.)

The goal of this study is to represent each state’s life-work balance accurately, reimagining the popular phrase “work-life balance” to showcase how businesses in each US state are looking to put life before work. 

The metrics were adjusted with index weights (listed below) to reflect their relative importance, giving each state an overall score out of 100. All data points are ranked highest to lowest, apart from the healthcare rating which is ranked out of 5 (with 1 being the best) and average hours worked per week which was ranked lowest best.

(*) When a range was offered for a State’s statutory annual leave and minimum wage, the minimum amount was listed. 

The data was collected and analyzed in November 2022. 

See how easy global relocation can be and find a better life-work balance