Top States for Business

These are America's 10 worst states for remote work

Key Points
  • As much as 30% of the U.S. workforce will work from home multiple days per week by the end of this year, according to a forecast from Global Workforce Analytics.
  • Employers can save $11,000 per employee by enabling remote work, and employees can save thousands of dollars, too.
  • But some states are better places to work from home based on factors including cost of living, internet access, taxes and the housing market.

In this article

Getty Images

One aspect of life during the pandemic that many experts believe may be here to stay is the move toward remote work.

Even as the U.S. economy reopens, some major employers are allowing many of their people to continue working from home, at least part of the time.

Twitter, which was already on the cutting edge of remote work before the pandemic, told employees in May 2020 that they could continue working from home "forever" if their situation allowed it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that all employees would be eligible to work from home as well.

Consulting firm Global Workforce Analytics predicted that as much as 30% of the workforce will work from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021 now that many CEOs are convinced that it is not only practical, it is also cheaper for companies and workers.

States bringing up the rear in 'Top States for Business'
States bringing up the rear in 'Top States for Business'

"A typical employer can save about $11,000 per year for every person who works remotely half of the time," said Global Workforce Analytics president Kate Lister. "Employees can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year."

For many workers, the movement gives them new flexibility in terms of where to live. And some states are more conducive to this new lifestyle than others. 

But that means other states do not make the grade. To determine America's Bottom States for Remote Work, we put the states through 15 metrics derived from the same data sources as our 2021 America's Top States for Business study. We considered factors including broadband connectivity, electrical grid reliability, health and health care, sustainability in the face of climate change, environmental quality, inclusiveness, the housing market, cost of living, and the tax burden.

If you are considering a move for your new work-at-home-life, think twice about heading to these ten states. 

10. Connecticut

A waiter serves patrons at L'escale restaurant on May 20, 2020 in Greenwich, Connecticut.
John Moore | Getty Images

You will pay some of the highest taxes in the nation if you choose to set up shop in Connecticut, and living costs are high as well. But health care is strong here, and so is your broadband connection.

Broadband access: 98.3%

Home price appreciation: 14.1%

Effective tax rate: 12.8%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 24

9. Kentucky

A home in Lynch, Kentucky.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Access to an affordable broadband plan is difficult in Kentucky, so all those Zoom meetings will set you back. Health care is poor, and the housing market is suffering from a lack of inventory. Environmental quality, however, is good.

Broadband access: 81.8%

Home price appreciation: 10.74%

Effective tax rate: 9.9%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 41

8. Pennsylvania

A shopper in West Lawn, PA, February 19, 2021.
Ben Hasty | MediaNews Group | Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Broadband access is good in Pennsylvania, and average speeds are fast. But taxes and overall costs are high, and environmental quality — including air pollution and sustainability — scores low.

Broadband access: 90.5%

Home price appreciation: 10.78%

Effective tax rate: 10.4%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 23

7. Alabama

An aerial view from a drone shows people walking through a flooded street after Hurricane Sally passed through the area on September 17, 2020 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The storm came ashore with heavy rain and high winds.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Coastal Alabama is vulnerable to hurricanes and other weather extremes, hurting the state's sustainability score. Health care is poor, and there are no statewide protections against discrimination. Broadband is weak. The state does offer a low cost of living, though.

Broadband access: 72.1%

Home price appreciation: 10.65%

Effective tax rate: 9%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 31

6. Arkansas

Discounts on soda at a WalMart store in Rogers, Arkansas.
Beth Hall | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Your money will go far with Arkansas' dirt-cheap costs, which is fitting for the home state of Walmart. But this is America's least inclusive state, with weak protections against discrimination and multiple laws passed in 2021 targeting LGBTQ+ people. Health care is among the worst in the nation, and broadband access is poor.

Broadband access: 54.3%

Home price appreciation: 10.26%

Effective tax rate: 10.4%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 43

5. (tie) Mississippi

Patricia Cole gets a shot of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccination from a medical worker at a pop-up clinic operated by Delta Health Center in this rural Delta community on April 27, 2021 in Hollandale, Mississippi.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Mississippi is America's cheapest state to live in and the taxes are low, but you get what you pay for. That includes poor health care, an unreliable power grid and a lack of inclusiveness. Connectivity is not good either.

Broadband access: 58.7%

Home price appreciation: 10.39%

Effective tax rate: 9.5%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 45

5. (tie) Wisconsin

A man runs across the street, as a winter storm moves across the midwest, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Darren Hauck | Reuters

Health care is good in Wisconsin, and the state does well on sustainability. But the state's power grid is susceptible to outages. Broadband, while readily available, can be expensive.

Broadband access: 82.6%

Home price appreciation: 10.26%

Effective tax rate: 10.7%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 21

3. Louisiana

A poster for New Orleans healthcare workers is seen with the slogan 'Won't Bow Down' on Frenchmen Street on April 24, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Living costs and taxes are low in Louisiana, but so is the quality of health care in America's least healthy state. The power grid is unreliable, connectivity is weak and the housing market is performing poorly.

Broadband access: 75%

Home price appreciation: 5.86%

Effective tax rate: 9.2%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 44

2. Maine

A line worker for Evergreen Electric, applies protective grounds to lines to protect other electrical workers who are repairing nearby lines in Harpswell, Maine.
Gordon Chibroski | Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

While Maine is a welcoming state with good health care and a booming housing market, it also has America's most unreliable power grid. Broadband is readily available, but few Mainers have access to an affordable plan. Taxes and living costs are relatively high as well.

Broadband access: 86.6%

Home price appreciation: 13.53%

Effective tax rate: 11%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 48

1. California

Gas prices are displayed at a Chevron station on June 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

California's tech companies have been at the forefront of the move to remote work. Those newly liberated workers may be tempted to relocate to another state. While California is one of America's most inclusive states, it is also one of the most expensive in which to live. Taxes are high, air quality is poor and the power grid is notoriously unreliable.

Broadband access: 94.1%

Home price appreciation: 11.39%

Effective tax rate: 11.5%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 33