Best and Worst States to Work in America 2023

This map illustrates the states of working America. You can see which states have the most robust laws to mandate adequate wages, safe conditions, and rights to organize.

States have had to step up for workers and their families in the past few decades, as Congress has stalled on taking action. For example, while the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for 14 years, most states have mandated higher wages.

Explore, learn, and then join us in taking action and demanding better for working families in the U.S.

Find out more in our report  |  View the map for working women


This action is operated by the Oxfam America Action Fund, an independent 501c4.



All data is based on laws and policies in effect as of July 1, 2023.

The index is based on state policies in three dimensions: wages (40% of overall score); worker protections (35% of overall score); and rights to organize (25% of overall score).

View full spreadsheets of the data.

Wage policies

Do workers earn a wage that is sufficient to provide for them and their families? Among the data points in this dimension:

  • The ratio of the state minimum wage in relation to the cost of living for a family of four with one wage earner. The goal wage is from the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
  • The ratio of a tipped minimum wage to the state minimum wage.
  • Whether or not the state allows localities to implement their own minimum wage laws.
  • Whether or not states include farmworkers in their minimum wages.
  • How well average unemployment payments for minimum wage workers cover cost of living for a family of four.

Worker protection policies

This dimension considers the quality of life for workers, especially women and parents. Among the data points in this dimension:

  • Mandate that pumping breaks for breastfeeding workers be paid breaks.
  • Mandates for equal pay, pay secrecy, and no salary history.
  • Mandates for paid sick and family leave.
  • Protections around flexible scheduling, reporting pay, split shift pay, advance notice.
  • Protections against sexual harassment.
  • Protections for federally excluded workers, including extending workers’ compensation to farmworkers and extending workers’ rights and protections to domestic workers.
  • Heat safety standard for outdoor workers.
  • Maintained child labor protections.

Right to organize policies

This dimension asks whether workers have the right to organize and sustain a trade union. Among the data points in this dimension:

  • State so-called “right-to-work” law (which suppresses union activity).
  • Public employees’ rights to collective bargaining and wage negotiation (teachers used as a case study).
  • Mandates for project labor agreements with state government.
  • Mandates for protection against retaliation.
  • Statewide policies on collective bargaining for public workers.

Past rankings