Nearly everyone wishes they had more time to do the things they love. You may spend your leisure time on adventurous outdoor activities or prefer quiet evenings at home engaged in any number of trending “granny hobbies,” from knitting to playing Solitaire.
No matter how you spend your free time, you likely wish you had more of it. As it turns out, the residents of some states achieve a better work-life balance than others. To determine which states lead the pack—and which ones fall behind—we analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey. If you’re curious how your state stacks up, check out this post to see where it ranks in our survey.
Vermont topped the list of the best work-life balance, with 7.13 work hours and 4.66 leisure hours per weekday. The states with the best work-life balance have over 3 hours of leisure time per day, and the majority work under 8 hours per day. Most states also get 8 or more hours of sleep per night.
Vermont made the top spot on our list of states with the best-work life balance. Vermonters not only spend less time working per week (35.65), but they also have more leisure hours per weekday (4.66) than the residents of other states. More middle-of-the-road in terms of sleep, Vermont residents report getting an average of 8.15 hours per night of shuteye.
North Dakota came in second for work-life balance with 38.1 average work hours per week and 3.91 leisure hours per weekday. Apparently North Dakotans prefer not to spend their free time snoozing, however, as they get less sleep per night (7.37 hours) than any other state in the top five—and most in the bottom five too!
Making third place on our list, Nevada residents spent a little more time working per week (38.55 hours) and a little less time on leisure activities (3.8 hours per day) than the two states ahead of them. Although Nevadans sleep a bit more than North Dakotans, their average 7.96 hours per night still comes up short compared to many other states.
Residents of the Cowboy State apparently really like (or need!) their sleep, receiving a reported 9.1 hours per night on average. Wyomingites also work an average of 36.05 hours per week and have 3.54 leisure hours per weekday, which puts them in fourth place on our list.
Utah rounds out the top five in our work-life balance leader list. State residents spend an average of 37.5 hours working, 3.46 enjoying leisure activities, and 8.36 hours sleeping.
On the flip side, the following states report more work and less play than the rest of the U.S. The residents of every state on the worst work-life balance list work more than 40 hours a week on average and have less than 3 hours of leisure time per weekday.
No one reports less free time than Idahoans, with an average of 1.98 hours of leisure per weekday. Residents of the state with the worst work-life balance spend an average of 44.52 hours per week on the job, but at least they sleep a solid 8.47 hours per night.
Iowans work even more (48.92 hours per week) than Idahoans, but they also find a little more time for leisure (2.44 hours per weekday). Although state residents report a respectable 8.24 hours of sleep per night, their poor overall work-life balance earns them second place on our list.
While working as many hours (44.55) as those in the state with the worst balance, Tennessee residents appear to prioritize relaxing over snoozing. They still get enough sleep (8.01 hours on average), but squeeze in a few extra minutes of weekday leisure time (2.26 hours) than do Idahoans.
Rhode Islanders spend more time on the job than anyone else on our list, with an impressive 51.2 average work hours per week. They seem to carve their leisure time (2.66 hours per weekday) from their dream time, as residents report an average of only 7.32 hours of sleep.
You’d think the Land of Enchantment would have an enchanting amount of leisure time, but New Mexico came in as the state with the fifth worst work-life balance. Residents work an average of 48 hours per week, have 2.53 hours of leisure per weekday, and sleep 8.1 hours per night.
Whether you live in a state that prioritizes work over fun or one that knows all about balance, there’s no doubting the importance of leisure time. Doing activities you enjoy can help reduce stress, recharge your energy, and even improve your mental health. So remember to make time for relaxing pursuits, such as spending time with loved ones, experiencing the outdoors, or playing games alone or with others.
We analyzed work and leisure reported in the 2021 American Time Use Survey to determine the states with the best and worst work-life balance. Each category is defined as follows:
Work: Work and work-related activities; travel related to work
Leisure: Socializing, relaxing and leisure; sports, exercise, and recreation; travel related to socializing; travel related to sports
To qualify, respondents had to be employed, report time working, and have been interviewed about weekday activities. States with five or fewer respondents—Alaska, Delaware, and South Dakota—were disqualified.