The States With the Most (And Least) Essential Workers

Amanda Postma
by Amanda Postma
Rankings - 2 weeks ago

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, jobs have been separated into two categories: essential and nonessential. While nonessential workers got to stay safely at home, essential workers continued to come in, day in and day out.

From healthcare, to farmers, and protective services, not all workers had the luxury of socially distancing. Instead, they put themselves at risk, to keep us safe, fed, and society running.

However, America is a big country, and each state is made up of different workers and industries. Where in America were more workers deemed essential? And what states had more workers working safely at home or waiting for society to open before flipping the open sign? We analzyed the data to find the most, and least, essential states.

The Most Essential States

  1. Utah
  2. Nevada
  3. Connecticut
  4. Virginia
  5. Colorado
  6. Texas
  7. New Jersey
  8. Maryland
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Wyoming

These states offered the most work in jobs that are now considered dangerous. Every day people are putting their lives on the line in order to serve others. If you didn’t see your state on the list and are wondering where you rank, check out the table below.

How We Determined The States With The Most Essential Workers

Each state was ranked equally on:

  1. Healthcare workers
  2. Farming/Fishing/Forestry workers
  3. Production and transportation workers
  4. Protective services, such as law enforcement

To find out the states with the most essential workers, we used data from the latest Census American Community Survey. The total number of workers in relevant industries was compared to the total number of workers in the state. The higher percent of workers, the more essential the state a.

And of course, the more people who kept working and kept society chugging along when a lot of other workers were sitting at home.

We chose the four industries above because they represent basic needs and cornerstones of American society.

1. Utah


Health: 5.16%
Protective Services: 0.84%
Farming/Fishing: 0.32%
Utah comes in first on the list with the most essential job offerings. The healthcare and production industries are the two most essential services in Utah with 5.16% and 6.31% of its workers in those industries respectively. Protective services only make up 0.84% and farming/fishing is only at 0.32%.

2. Nevada


Health: 4.63%
Protective Services: 2.08%
Farming/Fishing: 0.24%

With 4.63% of its workforce in the health industry, Nevada is the second-highest on the list when it comes to having the most essential workers. Following behind the health industry are the state’s production, protective services and farming/fishing industries.

3. Connecticut


Health: 6.45%
Protective Services: 1.04%
Farming/Fishing: 0.15%

Coming in at No. 3 is the state of Connecticut. This ranking is due to the high percentages in the healthcare and production industries. Together, the two industries make up over 11% of the state’s total workforce. The farming/fishing industry only makes up 0.15%, while protective services account for 1.04%.

4. Virginia


Health: 5.41%
Protective Services: 1.26%
Farming/Fishing: 0.37%

Just over 11% of total workers in Virginia are considered essential, with more than 9% coming straight from healthcare and production alone. Protective services and farming/fishing only account for 1.26% and 0.37% respectively.

5. Colorado


Health: 5.59%
Protective Services: 1.24%
Farming/Fishing: 0.45%

Colorado made it as No. 5 on our list of having the most essential workers. Over 5% of the states’ entire workforce are in the healthcare industry alone, and more than 4% is dedicated to the protective services and production industries.

6. Texas


Health: 5.49%
Protective Services: 1.14%
Farming/Fishing: 0.42%

Texas is the sixth on the list with more than 10% of the workforce committed to a career in health or production. Workers in protective services and farming/fishing account for just over 1.5%.

7. New Jersey

new jersey

Health: 6.20%
Protective Services: 1.27%
Farming/Fishing: 0.14%

The No. 7 spot is reserved for New Jersey with more than 6% of its workforce in the health industry. The next highest on the list of essential workers is the production industry coming just below 4%.

8. Maryland


Health: 6.28%
Protective Services: 1.50%
Farming/Fishing: 0.23%

Maryland finds itself in the eighth spot of having the most essential workers with the majority of them being in the health industry. More than 6% that is. This state only boasts 2.77% of production workers, 1.5% protective services workers and 0.23% farming/fishing workers.

9. Massachusetts


Health: 7.20%
Protective Services: 1.07%
Farming/Fishing: 0.18%

The No. 9 spot is taken by Massachusetts with a whopping 7.20% of its workforce being essential health industry workers. The rest of the 5% of essential workers make up protective services, farming/fishing and production industries.

10. Wyoming


Health: 6.12%
Protective Services: 0.88%
Farming/Fishing: 1.24%

The big 1-0 spot is filled by none other than Wyoming. While the health and production industries remain the highest percentages of essential workers here, this state covers a higher percentage of farming/fishing essential workers over protective services when compared to other states.

Summary of the States with the Most Essential Workers

Conclusively, essential workers are important to the health and safety of the American people. If you haven’t already today you should thank one. For a more complete look at all of the essential workers in the U.S. by state, who are getting their hands dirty and taking care of fellow Americans, take a look at our table below. If our research shows us anything, it’s that we can count on our neighbors.

The States with the Most (and Least) Essential Workers

Rank State
1 Utah
2 Nevada
3 Connecticut
3 Virginia
5 Colorado
6 Texas
6 New Jersey
8 Maryland
9 Massachusetts
10 Wyoming
11 Alaska
11 New York
13 Georgia
14 Hawaii
15 New Hampshire
15 Arizona
17 New Mexico
18 Florida
19 Nebraska
19 California
21 Washington
21 Illinois
21 Iowa
24 Idaho
25 Rhode Island
26 Delaware
27 North Carolina
27 Oklahoma
29 South Carolina
29 Indiana
31 Oregon
32 Michigan
32 Vermont
32 Minnesota
35 Maine
35 Pennsylvania
35 Ohio
38 Kansas
39 Missouri
40 Wisconsin
41 Alabama
42 North Dakota
42 Louisiana
42 Montana
45 Tennessee
46 Puerto Rico
47 West Virginia
48 South Dakota
49 Arkansas
50 Kentucky
51 Mississippi
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