Folks in the nation’s capital are, according to a Gallup survey,the least actively engaged workers in America.

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That could explain a lot.

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At the same time, workers in the District of Columbia are notthe most actively disengaged workers in the U.S.That distinction goes to four states. In fact, Washington, D.C.ranks very well in terms of workers who say they are “activelydisengaged.”

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There’s a Gallup trick to this engagement survey. It segmentsresponses into three categories: engaged; not engaged; and activelydisengaged. Gallup is most interested in the first and lastcategories.

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The survey results were drawn from phone interviews with morethan 166,000 U.S. adults during which respondents were asked aseries of questions designed to offer insight into their level of engagement at work.

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Gallup said Montanans are the most engaged workers in America bya 2 percentage margin over Mississippians, the next most engaged.Might not seem like a big spread, but within Gallup’s Top 10engaged states, it was the largest difference between any twostates.

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It should be noted that the No. 1 state had just 39 percent ofits workers reporting themselves as engaged. So while engagement isgrim in Washington, D.C., it’s not exactly robust anywhereelse.

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Here’s the Top 10 states with the highest levels of employeeengagement:

  • Montana (39 percent engaged)

  • Mississippi (37 percent)

  • Louisiana (36 percent)

  • Oklahoma (35 percent)

  • New Mexico (35 percent)

  • Arkansas (35 percent)

  • Texas (34 percent)

  • Florida (34 percent)

  • Alabama (33 percent)

  • Georgia (3 percent)

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The bottom 10, as reported by Gallup, are not the 10 with thelowest levels of positively engaged workers. Rather, Gallup createsa separate ranking of “actively disengaged workers.”

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So, for instance, Washington, D.C. ranks low in positiveengagement, but also places well in the “actively disengaged” list,with just 15 percent reporting that level of disengagement there.Apparently District of Columbians have mastered a work process inwhich they detach themselves from the job to a certain degree — butthen they go no further.

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In any case, here are the states that Gallup says reported thehighest level of workers who say they are “actively disengaged” intheir work.

  • Connecticut (21 percent)

  • New York (21 percent)

  • Michigan (21 percent)

  • Kentucky (21 percent)

  • New Jersey (20 percent)

  • Delaware (20 percent)

  • Ohio (20 percent)

  • Pennsylvania (20 percent)

  • Nevada (19 percent)

  • Missouri (19 percent)

It may all come down to economic opportunity.

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Says Gallup of the results: “States with higher activedisengagement have significantly higher unemployment and underemployment rates thanstates with lower active disengagement. For example, the eightstates with 20 percent or more actively disengaged workers averaged8 percent unemployment and 18 percent underemployment. In contrast,the seven states with 15 percent or less actively disengagedworkers averaged only 5 percent unemployment and 14 percentunderemployment. Employees in states with higher activedisengagement are also more likely to report that their company isletting people go (16 percent compared with 13 percent for those instates with 15 percent or fewer actively disengaged workers).”

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.