It is also the excited state but having life time of 10-5 to 10-3 seconds. Population inversion occurs only in between the metastable state and lower state. Therefore, it has life time more than excited state and lesser than ground state.
The two states in between the population inversion occurs and laser is achieved, the upper one is known as upper laser level (ULL) and lower is known as lower laser level (LLL). The concept of population inversion has been explained in another article.
Note: Two levels lasers cannot be constructed. Can you explain why? Atleast three levels are required to produce laser.