1 Wyoming 6. Hawaii

2. South Dakota 7. Idaho

3. Kansas 8. Nebraska

4. Vermont 9. Utah

5. Colorado 10. North Dakota

The labor market is a rental market. Not since the abolition of slavery has anyone sold his or her labor. The INC. survey thus presents the labor environments of the 50 states as though they were so many houses up for rent. As always, the question is, What do you get for what you pay?

On the benefit side of the ledger, we measured the states against a standard of education (percentage of high school graduates among the over-25-year-olds) and a standard of productivity (the dollar amount added by each worker to the value of manufactured goods). On the cost side, we included the average weekly wage per worker by state and the degree of unionization. It should be noted, however, that the "cost" of union labor -- if it is higher at all -- can be greatly outweighed, as in the case of Hawaii, by the productivity factor.

Only 3 states dropped out of 1983's top 10 -- Arizona, Florida, and New Hampshire -- and none dropped very far. The mix of costs and benefits remains the significant thing. Only 2 of the top 10 in this category, North and South Dakota, can be said to have really low wages. By the same token, only 2 of the least unionized states, Kansas and South Dakota, made it to the best of show, and only 2 of the most productive, Wyoming and Hawaii, are included. On the other hand, 4 of the top 10 in educational level managed to attain that same status-in the labor category overall.