The U.S. lags behind other countries in work-life balance. But these 10 states might offer better burnout prevention

February 1, 2023, 5:59 PM UTC
New Haven, Connecticut
Connecticut has the best work-life balance, but the U.S. is still lacking when it comes to workers' rights surrounding mental-health.
Kristian Middlebrook—EyeEm/Getty Images

Connecticut, much like a middle child, is often overlooked. But the state is more than prime suburbia for New Yorkers who want to escape the city—it’s also where workers can enjoy the best work-life balance. 

That’s according to Remote in a new report ranking states by work-life balance. The employment services company conducted an index data analysis by looking at factors such as annual leave (as well as sick and maternity leave), minimum wage, healthcare access, happiness score, average working hours, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity. 

Connecticut’s minimum wage, at $14 an hour (34% higher than the national average), vaulted the state into first place. Its maternity leave laws also helped, as the state offers 12 weeks of statutory leave and is the only state to offer a 95% maternity payment rate, which Remote defines as the percentage an employee typically receives of their salary while on maternity leave.

During the pandemic, wellness became a front and center issue as employees grew increasingly stressed and anxious. So, too, did flexibility as workers reevaluated what’s important to them in the midst of a pandemic. Many joined the Great Resignation or up and moved from big cities to more low-key areas, all in search of a better work-life balance. According to Remote’s index scores, they’re most likely to find that in these top 10 states:  

  1. Connecticut: 66.86
  1. Washington: 62.79
  1. New York: 62.75
  1. California: 61.26
  1. Rhode Island: 59.52
  1. New Jersey: 59.22
  1. Oregon: 58.47
  1. Vermont: 58.02
  1. Maine: 55.66
  1.  Massachusetts: 52.99

The majority of the best states for work-life balance are on the coast, with most located in the northeast. Only three states are out west, with two—Oregon and Washington—in the Pacific Northwest.

With an overall index score hovering around 66, Connecticut barely received a passing grade; index scores fell from there. It all goes to show that the nation has a lot to do to finally start addressing workers’ needs—something that has become even more apparent during a global health crisis.

Paid sick leave is left to the states to figure out, making the U.S. the only wealthy nation to not consider it a national right. “It really is a scandal in the United States that there is no national paid sick days law that covers all workers,” Sherry Leiwant, co-president of workers’ rights advocacy organization A Better Balance, told Fortune.

And a lack of federally designated paid parental leave has fed into the nation’s childcare crisisMaternity and paternity leave is also a benefit that some companies are cutting out of recession fears. Data from Society for Human Resource Management shows that the number of employers offering more maternity leave than required decreased by 35% from 2021 to 2022. 

Without proper PTO or parental leave, some Americans are considering other options, looking to live and work remotely in other countries as a digital nomad. “It’s much more laid back, you don’t have that nine to five rat race,” Murat Coskun, managing partner of passporting firm Get Golden Visa, told Fortune of other countries’ work-life balance.

But those who don’t have the means to move across the pond may find some solace in Connecticut. 

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