NBC's List Of 'Laziest' States Is Stupid, Lazy


In America, land of the Puritan work ethic, the worst thing you can call anyone is "lazy" -- it functions not only as a character judgment, but also a reason why someone doesn't deserve basic human necessities like food and health care. This works whether or not it's true, and it's often not, because the idea of someone getting food or shelter or health care when they're not working as hard as you are makes steam come out of a lot of people's ears.

This is partially by design -- the result of a culture created by "job creators" who want to pay less money in taxes and figure it's easier to pit the lower classes against each other than to outright say, "No, I want more money for me, thanks." A culture in which being overworked has become a point of pride.

This, I suspect, is how we ended up with an NBC New York's listicle titled "These Are the Laziest States in America, New Study Says." The actual study, from Wallet Hub, lists the states in order of how "hard-working" they are -- but a quick and easy clickbait technique is to flip a study like that around and read it the opposite way so it doesn't look like all the other clickbait based on the same study. The opposite of "hard-working" is "lazy," right? So it should work. Technically. But it doesn't.

In general, Americans work an average of almost 1,800 hours per year, but not every state has the same level of work ethic. In a new study from personal-finance website WalletHub, metrics such as average workweek hours, employment rate and average leisure time per day were used to determine the hardest-working states in the country. While Alaska took the top spot as the hardest-working state, states in the tri-state area left a bit to be desired. Here are the 26 laziest states in reverse order, according to the study.

The thing is, the criteria that the study used to determine how "hard-working" individual states are do not necessarily translate to "laziness," which in turn makes the listicle sound like it is castigating people for things there is absolutely nothing "lazy" about doing.

For example, here is the reason given for why Maine is "lazy."

"Maine had the highest share of workers actually using their vacation time rather than leaving it unused, with only 38% not taking advantage of their days off."

That is not "lazy." That is not being a sucker. To characterize people taking their own vacation days, that they are entitled to, that are part of their compensation package, as "lazy" is a pretty shitty thing to do. You might as well say "The really good workers are the ones who say 'No thanks!' to at least a few paychecks a year." You work for your vacation days, take them.

Other states, like Mississippi, are deemed "lazy" because they don't have a lot of jobs there.

Mississippi had the 5th lowest employment rate and the 4th lowest annual volunteer hours per resident.

West Virginia, too.

West Virginia had the 3rd lowest employment rate and was in a three-way tie for the highest idle youth rate with Alaska and Louisiana.

You know, it doesn't seem like it's the fault of the people in those states for being "lazy" so much as those people not having jobs and being poor.

Florida, meanwhile, was deemed lazy because not enough people there work multiple jobs.

Florida was the state with the lowest share of workers who have multiple jobs with only 3.5% of residents pulling double duty.

Psst! It's not actually a good thing when people have to work multiple jobs!

Rhode Island? Land of my people? Also lazy, because people don't work enough hours there.

Based on the study, Rhode Island is a very relaxing state to live in. It is tied for 2nd with Oregon for the lowest average workweek hours and it takes the top spot for the highest average leisure time spent per day.

Well. Allegedly, there may or may not be a lot of government jobs in Rhode Island that people just sort of "have" but don't have to show up for, and so those jobs (should they exist) probably don't have a lot of overtime -- which may or may not be skewing the statistics here. But still, people are only supposed to work for eight hours a day. If you are working more than that and not getting paid for it, that is bad, not honorable. .

Now, obviously this is just silly clickbait, probably written by an overworked and underpaid intern. But it's worth it to consider the way the word "lazy" has so casually been used as a cudgel against the poor -- and most specifically against poor people of color -- and against those advocating for or taking advantage of their rights as workers, and the way in which our society has idealized martyring oneself to the capitalist machine. It's some pretty serious bullshit.

But for real, damn the man, take your vacation days.

[NBC New York]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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