Data Shows Georgia Workers Are Miserable. See What’s “Driving” The Results

Outline of a map of Georgia

By John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

In the 2022 election, GOP Governor Brian Kemp insisted that Georgians were pretty happy, while his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams claimed they weren’t. Though Kemp coasted to reelection, a new survey shows that Abrams may have been right, and Georgia’s workers have reasons to be unhappy. See what’s “driving” the results.

WSB-TV reported that a survey showed Georgia ranks dead last worker happiness, with data based upon wages, quit rates, commute times, working hours, injuries, paid time off, and state “positivity” levels. Data was compiled from such sources as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bankrate, Scholaroo, Paycor, and Stats America.

A deeper dive into the data, from SelectSoftware Reviews, reveals that “Georgia came out as the worst-performing state for job satisfaction, scoring an overall 29.62,” according to Phil Strazzulla. “It has the highest quit rate, 3.6%, of any contender, ranks poorly for general state happiness, and grapples with an average commute time of 28.7 minutes.”

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When it comes politics, about half the ten states with the happiest employees vote Republican. It’s the same for the ten states with the unhappiest employees, so politics may not necessarily be a factor.

You can find states right next to each other having wildly different scores (North Dakota is 20 points ahead of South Dakota), but if there is a regional consistency, it’s that the Southeast USA is below average. Only one state with an SEC team scores over 40 (Louisiana), while Florida, Texas, Alabama, and South Carolina join the Peach State at the bottom.

New England and Pacific States (like California, Oregon and Washington) all rank above 40, with Western states like Colorado and Arizona having happy employees as well.

So how can Georgia do better?

Reducing the commute time would be go a long way toward making Georgia workers happier. Friends of mine and I have enjoyed working through the MARTA bus system to Atlanta Braves games. Expanding the number of busses and routes throughout Cobb County would be a great start, if the rail system isn’t going to spread out through the Georgia suburbs.

The Peach State could also learn a lot from the Ocean State. Rhode Island figured out that expanding PTO (Paid Time Off) could help keep employees happy, which is why the state sports a low quit rate and a strong job market.

But not all of this is on government to provide the solution. A lot of it should be what private employers can utilize to get the best workers, and happiest ones.

“Although many people might assume that a job is the same wherever you are, these results demonstrate the considerable impact a location can have on how workers feel about their job, whether that is due to state laws, commute times, or wages,” Strazzulla adds. “It emphasizes the importance for employers to create environments where employees find genuine fulfillment and can thrive.”

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own, and do not speak for LaGrange College faculty, students, staff or administration. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

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