Which states have offered workers the most protections during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Hint: It’s not Alabama, which is dead last.

By the way, if you’re a little confused about the state map at the top of this blog post, it’s Estonian. We embrace all cultures and national origins here at The Employer Handbook — especially when the map is one of the first hits on Google Images that I can use without violating copyright.

But, I digress. The purpose of this post isn’t to praise Estonia or bash Alabama. (I’ve been to Huntsville a few times to present for Northern Alabama SHRM, and I’m a fan.) Instead, I came across this Oxfam America study of The Best and Worst States To Work in America During COVID-19, and I said to myself,

Self, how about plucking the low-hanging fruit of a clickbaity study that’s easy to cut and paste into a blog post?”

What can I say? Last night, that voice made sense.

The rankings.

This study examines “three dimensions and 27 data points,” but let’s focus on the former; otherwise, explaining 27 data points defeats the purpose of mailing this one in.

  • Worker protections: Are states taking proactive measures to protect workers and their communities amidst a pandemic that involves a deadly airborne virus?
  • Healthcare: How are states protecting their residents’ health during a pandemic, especially given the limitations of a health insurance system often linked to employment?
  • Unemployment supports: How are states accommodating the millions who are suddenly, through no fault of their own, unemployed and without a steady income?

Before I peaked at the results of the study, if I were to wager on which state landed at No. 1, I would have spread my money around and bet on California, New Jersey, and New York.

And I would have been close, but no cigar.

Here are the Overall Top 5 (out of 50 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico):

1. Washington
2. New Jersey
3. California (1st in the Worker Protections category)
4. Massachusetts
5. Connecticut

(New York finished 6th)

And here are the bottom five :

52. Alabama
51. Missouri
50. Georgia
49. Wyoming
48 Mississippi

The Methodology.

All data is based on policies and laws in effect between February 15, 2020 and July 1, 2020. Any executive order or state legislation passed after July 1 is not reflected in the index.

The most interesting man in the world trend.

Oxfam America noted that there was little correlation between scores and COVID-19 infection rates.

Want to see your state’s scorecard?

Here is a copy of the full report. But, if you want to see more details on your state’s scorecard, click here.


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