Which states have the most amount of free time away from work?

Updated on

After a long day in the office, you just want to get home. Yet, you are faced with the dreaded commute, cruelly digging into the amount of free time you can have.

Resume building platform Zety have ranked US states in a study assessing work life balance based on the amount of time residents spend working and commuting.

Get The Full Warren Buffett Series in PDF

Get the entire 10-part series on Warren Buffett in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues

Q3 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

The state revealed the most amount of 'free time' was Utah. To calculate this, they took the average hours worked weekly, added it to the average commute time over the week and subtracted this figure from the total amount of hours in a week, like so:

Formula for calculating free time

Hours in a week - (hours at work + commute time) = average free time per US state

Residents in Utah work an average of 37.3 hours weekly; 3.67 hours commuting and have therefore 127.03 left away from work duties.

This is in comparison to Alaska, the state with the least amount of free time, where residents spend nearly 4 hours more each week working and commuting Vs those in Utah.

With 28% of America’s work being done outside of normal working hours, Zety’s editor-in-chief Bart Turczynski said, ‘We don't really leave work when we leave the office. Is commuting work or life? It's not that black and white, sure. However, in our research, we decided to treat that gray zone - time spent commuting - as part of work, not life. Turns out, most 9-to-5 jobs are more like 8-to-6 jobs and don't necessarily make up for that in cash. And no - having the opportunity to listen to 2h of podcasts every day at 1.5x speed is not a perk.’


The study uncovers the four states where worker spend longest working and commuting, Alaska, Washington, Virginia and Maryland all land within the top 10 for best wages. Additionally, the top 10 states that have the most amount of free time have an average salary of $47,531. This is lower than the average US salary of $49,577 - supporting the idea that that longer work equals higher pay.

Why is amount of free time important?

Spending time away from work, doing what you enjoy alleviates stress which can take its toll on both your mental and physical wellbeing. Workplace burn out has been linked to health issues such as hypertension and heart problems as well as depression and anxiety.

Career expert Bart told us “Work-life balance is crucial to maintaining general well-being and long-term productivity” You’ll find you’re much more efficient at work if you do maximise your free time.

Overworking can increase tiredness, lower concentration and decrease productivity, making working for longer hours counterproductive. Tasks that would usually take half an hour can take twice the time, more mistakes are made, and you spend more time fixing the errors.

How to achieve a better work-life balance

Zety provided some tips on things to consider when taking a new role:

  • The working hours
  • The commute time
  • The company perks, including flexible hours
  • The long-term career possibilities
  • The responsibilities and pressures of the role

Commuting might not have previously been considered when deciding to take a new role, but perhaps it should be. Adjusting your priorities when weighing up the pros and cons of a particular role can give a better indication of the impact it will have on your quality of life, hopefully prompting you to put yourself first and live a healthier lifestyle.

Leave a Comment