Demolishing Oxfam’s Laughable Ranking

by Chris Saxman

Some things just have to be challenged at the outset before they gain traction and become an untrue reality.

Gaining traction among too many candidates for the General Assembly is a ranking, released by a British organization, Oxfam, that graded American states and the District of Columbia on best states for workers. This is the second year of their ranking. Here’s what their release stated:

In 2018, workers are not sharing in the bounty of our thriving economy—and the federal government is not going to make changes that matter. However, some states are taking steps to keep working families out of poverty, and to give them a decent chance. How does your state rank?

According to Oxfam’s rankings, Virginia ranks LAST out of the 50 states and DC.

A ranking of #51 out of 51, we believe, is worth challenging.

How are these rankings compiled? And what is Oxfam anyway? (Click the above link,)

Oxfam predicates its ranking on how well working families do in states relative to being able to get out of poverty. This relates to the organization’s mission which states:

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. We help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters.

Got it?

Oxfam wants “to end the injustice of poverty”; however, it didn’t rank states on their rates of actual poverty or measure how well people move out of it.

Bet you want to know where Virginia ranks on poverty, don’t you? No Googling!

Oxfam ranked the states and D.C. based on just three areas of policy that Oxfam thinks will help working families get out of poverty.

But what if families are not actually in poverty?


Not yet.

Those three policies areas according the global organization that is working to end the injustice of poverty are as follows (this is copied directly from their ranking):

We evaluated states on three dimensions:

  • Wage policies: Has the state raised the minimum wage to help workers earn a living wage? Do localities have capacity to raise the minimum wage to accommodate higher costs of living?
  • Worker protection policies: Does the state provide protections at work for situations such as paid sick leave, pregnancy, and equal pay?
  • Right to organize policies: Does the state guarantee that workers have the right to organize and sustain a trade union?

One policy + two policy + three policy divided by 3 = your state’s ranking in Oxfam’s


Break down those three policies areas and what do they suggest? That if Virginia ends the Dillon Rule so localities can be pressured to implement local minimum wage increases and repeals Right to Work, magically the Commonwealth would “keep working families out of poverty.”

A quick Wikipedia search found that Virginia is ranked #11 in the rate of poverty. 

Well, wait a second…Virginia was just ranked the worst state in America for workers.

Maybe we should check other rankings that relate to workers.

How about the unemployment rate? You know – do workers have actual jobs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Virginia is tied for #7.


Google, how about median family income? World Population Review says Virginia is #9. 

Wow. So combining Median Family Income and the Unemployment Rate rankings, Virginia is #8?

Nope. With those two rankings, compared to all the other states and D.C., Virginia is actually #4. 

But Oxfam seems to imply Virginia is the WORST STATE TO WORK IN.

Something doesn’t square up.

Well, how affordable is Virginia?

U.S News and World-Report says Virginia is #31 in affordability. This seems like an area on which the Commonwealth should focus some attention. Housing is kind of expensive. That means demand is ahead of supply. Time to build more housing units.

Are workers getting their money’s worth in K-12 schools?

Wallet Hub by way of Forbes (thanks again Google) ranked Virginia public schools #6 in the nation.

(Quality – #7 and Safety – #2)


Higher ed? Virginia is #1. (No, that does not include recent team sport national championships – which would be great considering UVA’s two recent nattys. But we might get deductions considering Virginia Tech doesn’t have any ever.)

So, let’s just keep Virginia’s higher education system at #1.


Well, how safe is Virginia?

According to World Atlas, which used FBI crime statistics, Virginia is #13 for safety. Other recent surveys had the Commonwealth at #4. We used #13 since it was the most recent one.

Health care? How healthy are Virginians and how good is our health care system compared to the other states?

America’s Health Rankings has Virginia at #20.

Transportation? #19 overall but – yikes 43(!) – for commuting workers.

(Note to lawmakers and candidates – need more work on commute times)

Road quality is #9.

How green is Virginia’s environment for its workers? Forbes says #23. Not great but…not last.

Fine. We’re not as bad as Oxfam tries to makes us out to be. (Probably a bunch of Maryland grads anyway lamenting being kicked around the Big Ten after they left the ACC)


Ask them yourself.

If you want to know where Virginia ranks in the Happiest State Rankings, Wallet Hub says we are #15. (They say our Work Environment is #25 by the way)

We totaled up the TEN aforementioned rankings, did not include debunked ones like Oxfam’s, and did the math thing relative to the other states and DC.

Virginia Ranks #6 for Best State for Workers who want a job, good pay, to send kids to school, to ride good roads, to lock the doors at night, then send their kids to college, need health care, pay the tab, breathe the air, and at the end of the day ask – “Am I happy?”

Virginia is most certainly NOT the worst state for Workers.

Sorry, Oxfam. Try again.

Your rankings are just not credible if you only consider three areas of public policy.

And we REALLY like the Dillon Rule and Right To Work.

Gallup Poll on national popularity of Right to Work – Hint over 70% 

Virginia is the #6 Best State for Workers

Thanks to Oxfam, now Virginia can focus on going for the gold.

Being #6 might be good for most states, but this is the Commonwealth of Virginia and we have standards.

Being #1 is the standard.

Repealing Right to Work and ending the Dillon Rule will not help us get there anytime soon.

Chris Saxman is executive director of Virginia FREE. This column is re-published from a Virginia FREE email distribution.

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8 responses to “Demolishing Oxfam’s Laughable Ranking”

  1. From now on, I’m referring to OxFam as ToxFan — toxic fantasy.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Most all these “rankings” have some perspective that represents the focus of the organization – whether it’s left or right or way left or way right.

    That’s why looking at just one is not really very informative (and your link does not go to their study):

    In this case – look at their top 10:

    Top 10 States for Workers’ Rights

    Rhode Island
    New York

    Now – you can bet those 10 states are not discounting the study!

    AND you can bet if Virginia scored in the top 10 – folks like Saxman and Bacon would be hooting and hollering… right?

    So 49 states are BETTER than Virginia? geeze

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Minnesota – you’re forgetting how Minnesota’s pro-union laws allow unions to screw part-time workers. I’ve documented my situation several times. I had to work for nothing for several weeks just to pay back dues and taxes. Unions care about unions.

      I paid union dues for wages barely above minimum wage, no benefits beyond two weeks of vacation at average weekly earnings and no protection against layoffs.

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    We came in last because Virginia has the most consequential election in 2019. That’s it, nothing else. Of course this is all coordinated. Virginia has much to hoot and holler about on the positive side, but I don’t sense much effort to get that out. If only anybody on the Republican or Conservative side could organize a two-car funeral…..but too much to ask.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      in 2019 – is it about the Dems and the Media and “coordination” or is it about voters and more and more voters who think like NoVa voters?

      In other words – is it the VOTERS who are changing? And if they are – is the GOP interested in representing them or more interested in Conservative “values”?

      Serious question. Is it the job of the elected to represent voters or to represent their own philosophical leanings?

      Perhaps that’s the problem with the Va GOP – they just no longer agree with voters, and they’re going to stick by their own principles!

      Is it “pandering” or do voters actually more readily identify with the Dems values and principles?

      All along, I have felt the GOP was gravitating to a reckoning of how to reconcile their own beliefs and those of voters… and what they’d do or not… in trying to stay in office.

      At some point – does the GOP basically admit that they are no longer in tune with the voters?

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    No, the voters send that message….and far too many Republicans respond by saying, the voters are wrong! They are making a mistake! The gun issues are a good example, as you see several Republican candidates breaking from the hard Citizen’s Defense League/NRA positions and supporting a “red flag” approach, expanded background checks, limits on magazines….but a hard core within the party considers them commie sell-outs for doing that.

    Faced with that situation, of course, you message on something else, something that does unify your base and attract independent voters. Economic success? The year without a college tuition hike? If there is such a unifying message, some generic argument that the current GOP control should remain in place, I’m not seeing it. Whereas on the Democratic side there are efforts at a coordinated appeal. Three weeks remain….and it remains within the realm of the possible that the smoke clears and the GOP still has 51 in the House. There are clearly enough races “in play.”

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” No, the voters send that message….and far too many Republicans respond by saying, the voters are wrong! They are making a mistake! ”

    that’s what I have noticed. The GOP tells the voters they are “wrong” about health care, climate science, racism and white supremacy, immigration, … oh and taxes… of course.

    So when you vote GOP – you get GOP! what a deal!

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    Basically the GOP disagrees on the things that voters say – concern them. The GOPs position is that these folks are uninformed and misled by the media on the issues and the GOP does not intend to change in response to voters concerns.

    Then when you look at whether the GOP will hold majorities in Va, it laughable. What does the GOP think? It’s like they are disconnected from the voters! That the voters themselves are the problem! geeze!

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