Delaware Tops the List of Best States for Workers

By Staff Report

Nov. 15, 2005

Workers in Delaware enjoy the best environment in the nation when it comes to job opportunities, job quality and workplace fairness, according to a recent study, “Decent Work in America,” conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This is the first study that measures the relative performance of states by examining a variety of categories and attributes, says James Heintz, associate professor at the institute.

Using the newly developed Work Environment Index—a composite
of multiple factors that contribute to creating a good workplace—researchers found that employees in Delaware enjoy some of the best salaries, benefits and basic social protections in the country. New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Iowa, respectively, round out the top five best states for workers. Meanwhile, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah are at the other end of the spectrum, with Louisiana ranking dead last.

Heintz says there are a number of reasons that could explain why certain states rank poorly in the index. In the case of Texas, for example, geographic considerations come into play. The state shares a border with Mexico and, thus, has a higher-than-average volume of migrant laborers. Since salaries and benefits for this group lag significantly behind mainstream employees, it probably contributed to Texas’ poor performance.

Meanwhile, racial dynamics, which create an unequal distribution of job opportunities, is the likely culprit in dragging Louisiana to the bottom of the list, Heintz explains. Research indicates that whites tend to have access to better professional opportunities, relative to minority groups, in the state.

Gina Ruiz

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