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The American Workplace - How Much Time Do Americans Spend At Work?

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Compared to other countries with advanced economies, workers in the United States have a long work year, due in part to a lack of legally mandated, employer-paid TABLE 2.2 Employees on nonfarm payrolls by major industry sector, 1955–2005 (CONTINUED) "B-1. Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls by Major Industry Sector, 1955 to Date," in Establishment Data Historical Employment, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005, ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb1.txt (accessed January 9, 2006)vacation time. Such paid vacation time is common in many countries in Europe. In 2004, according to the Chartbook of International Labor Comparisons: The Americas, Asia, Europe (U.S. Department of Labor, January 2006), only Koreans (2,380 hours per year) and Mexicans (1,848) averaged more hours worked per year than Americans (1,824). These figures contrasted sharply with such European countries as the Netherlands (1,357 hours), Norway (1,363), France (1,441), and Germany (1,443). (See Figure 2.1.)
TABLE 2.2
Employees on nonfarm payrolls by major industry sector, 1955–2005 (CONTINUED)
[In thousands]
Year and month Service-providing
Total service-providing Trade transportation, and utilities Information Financial activities Professional and business services Education and health services Leisure and hospitality Other services Government
aData include Alaska and Hawaii beginning in 1959. This inclusion resulted in an increase of (0.4 percent) in the nonfarm total for the March 1959 benchmark month.
bpreliminary
Note: Data are currently projected from March 2004 benchmark levels. When more recent benchmark data are introduced with the release of January 2006 estimates, all unadjusted data (beginning April 2004) and all seasonally adjusted data (beginning January 2001) are subject to revision.
SOURCE: "B-1. Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls by Major Industry Sector, 1955 to Date," in Establishment Data Historical Employment, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005, ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb1.txt (accessed January 9, 2006)
Annual averages
1955 31,510 10,612 1,735 2,212 3,320 2,491 3,140 978 7,021
1956 32,674 10,921 1,778 2,299 3,437 2,593 3,242 1,018 7,386
1957 33,290 10,942 1,780 2,348 3,504 2,676 3,267 1,050 7,724
1958 33,107 10,656 1,674 2,386 3,449 2,695 3,243 1,058 7,946
1959a 34,211 10,960 1,718 2,454 3,591 2,822 3,365 1,107 8,192
1960 35,114 11,147 1,728 2,532 3,694 2,937 3,460 1,152 8,464
1961 35,458 11,040 1,693 2,590 3,744 3,030 3,468 1,188 8,706
1962 36,455 11,215 1,723 2,656 3,885 3,172 3,557 1,243 9,004
1963 37,379 11,367 1,735 2,731 3,990 3,288 3,639 1,288 9,341
1964 38,658 11,677 1,766 2,811 4,137 3,438 3,772 1,346 9,711
1965 40,279 12,139 1,824 2,878 4,306 3,587 3,951 1,404 10,191
1966 42,280 12,611 1,908 2,961 4,517 3,770 4,127 1,475 10,910
1967 44,049 12,950 1,955 3,087 4,720 3,986 4,269 1,558 11,525
1968 45,731 13,334 1,991 3,234 4,918 4,191 4,453 1,638 11,972
1969 47,619 13,853 2,048 3,404 5,156 4,428 4,670 1,731 12,330
1970 48,827 14,144 2,041 3,532 5,267 4,577 4,789 1,789 12,687
1971 49,734 14,318 2,009 3,651 5,328 4,675 4,914 1,827 13,012
1972 51,499 14,788 2,056 3,784 5,523 4,863 5,121 1,900 13,465
1973 53,462 15,349 2,135 3,920 5,774 5,092 5,341 1,990 13,862
1974 55,025 15,693 2,160 4,023 5,974 5,322 5,471 2,078 14,303
1975 55,751 15,606 2,061 4,047 6,034 5,497 5,544 2,144 14,820
1976 57,477 16,128 2,111 4,155 6,287 5,756 5,794 2,244 15,001
1977 59,620 16,765 2,185 4,348 6,587 6,052 6,065 2,359 15,258
1978 62,670 17,658 2,287 4,599 6,972 6,427 6,411 2,505 15,812
1979 64,935 18,303 2,375 4,843 7,312 6,767 6,631 2,637 16,068
1980 66,265 18,413 2,361 5,025 7,544 7,072 6,721 2,755 16,375
1981 67,172 18,604 2,382 5,163 7,782 7,357 6,840 2,865 16,180
1982 67,127 18,457 2,317 5,209 7,848 7,515 6,874 2,924 15,982
1983 68,171 18,668 2,253 5,334 8,039 7,766 7,078 3,021 16,011
1984 71,095 19,653 2,398 5,553 8,464 8,193 7,489 3,186 16,159
1985 73,926 20,379 2,437 5,815 8,871 8,657 7,869 3,366 16,533
1986 76,156 20,795 2,445 6,128 9,211 9,061 8,156 3,523 16,838
1987 78,618 21,302 2,507 6,385 9,608 9,515 8,446 3,699 17,156
1988 81,436 21,974 2,585 6,500 10,090 10,063 8,778 3,907 17,540
1989 83,969 22,510 2,622 6,562 10,555 10,616 9,062 4,116 17,927
1990 85,764 22,666 2,688 6,614 10,848 10,984 9,288 4,261 18,415
1991 85,787 22,281 2,677 6,558 10,714 11,506 9,256 4,249 18,545
1992 86,631 22,125 2,641 6,540 10,970 11,891 9,437 4,240 18,787
1993 88,625 22,378 2,668 6,709 11,495 12,303 9,732 4,350 18,989
1994 91,517 23,128 2,738 6,867 12,174 12,807 10,100 4,428 19,275
1995 94,142 23,834 2,843 6,827 12,844 13,289 10,501 4,572 19,432
1996 96,299 24,239 2,940 6,969 13,462 13,683 10,777 4,690 19,539
1997 98,890 24,700 3,084 7,178 14,335 14,087 11,018 4,825 19,664
1998 101,576 25,186 3,218 7,462 15,147 14,446 11,232 4,976 19,909
1999 104,528 25,771 3,419 7,648 15,957 14,798 11,543 5,087 20,307
2000 107,136 26,225 3,631 7,687 16,666 15,109 11,862 5,168 20,790
2001 107,952 25,983 3,629 7,807 16,476 15,645 12,036 5,258 21,118
2002 107,784 25,497 3,395 7,847 15,976 16,199 11,986 5,372 21,513
2003 108,182 25,287 3,188 7,977 15,987 16,588 12,173 5,401 21,583
2004 109,596 25,510 3,138 8,052 16,414 16,954 12,479 5,431 21,618
2005b 111,490 25,833 3,142 8,227 16,935 17,344 12,748 5,467 21,795

FIGURE 2.1 International comparison of annual hours worked per employed person, 1994 and 2004 "Chart 2.8. Annual Hours Worked per Employed Person, 1994 and 2004," in A Chartbook of International Labor Comparisons: The Americas, Asia, Europe, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, January 2006, http://www.dol.gov/asp/media/reports/chartbook/chart2_8.htm (accessed March 21, 2006)

TABLE 2.3 Persons at work by occupation, sex, and usual full- or part-time status, 2005 "23. Persons at Work by Occupation, Sex, and Usual Full- or Part-time Status," in Employment and earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http/www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat23.pdf (accessed January 9,2006)

TABLE 2.3
Persons at work by occupation, sex, and usual full- or part-time status, 2005
[Numbers in thousands]
Occupation and sex 2005
Total at work Worked 1 to 34 hours Worked 35 hours or more Average hours
Total For economic reasons For noneconomic reasons Total at work Persons who usually work full time
Usually work full part time Usually Worked 35 part time
*Includes farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, not shown separately.
SOURCE: "23. Persons at Work by Occupation, Sex, and Usual Full- or Part-time Status," in Employment and earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http/www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat23.pdf (accessed January 9,2006)
Total, 16 years and over 136,218 32,268 4,350 8,427 19,491 103,950 39.2 42.9
Management, professional, and related occupations 46,925 9,131 721 3,207 5,202 37,794 41.1 44.0
    Management, business, and financial operations occupations 19,772 2,823 206 1,220 1,397 16,948 43.5 45.5
    Professional and related occupations 27,153 6,307 515 1,987 3,805 20,846 39.3 42.8
Service occupations 22,288 8,198 1,327 1,198 5,673 14,090 35.2 41.6
Sales and office occupations 34,703 9,607 998 2,102 6,507 25,096 37.4 42.0
    Sales and related occupations 15,846 4,575 568 744 3,262 11,271 38.3 43.8
    Office and administrative support occupations 18,857 5,032 429 1,358 3,245 13,826 36.6 40.5
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations* 14,853 2,393 698 1,009 685 12,461 41.0 42.5
    Construction and extraction occupations 8,832 1,587 543 672 372 7,244 40.3 41.7
    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 5,077 587 101 279 207 4,490 42.1 43.3
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 17,449 2,940 606 911 1,423 14,509 41.0 43.3
    Production occupations 9,099 1,215 261 483 472 7,884 41.1 42.5
    Transportation and material moving occupations 8,349 1,725 345 428 951 6,625 40.9 44.2
Men, 16 years and over 73,607 12,454 2,220 4,121 6,114 61,152 41.8 44.2
Management, professional, and related occupations 23,532 3,140 329 1,395 1,416 20,392 44.0 45.8
    Management, business, and financial operations occupations 11,421 1,243 125 604 513 10,179 45.8 47.2
    Professional and related occupations 12,111 1,898 204 791 903 10,213 42.2 44.4
Service occupations 9,584 2,651 512 498 1,640 6,933 37.9 42.7
Sales and office occupations 12,821 2,469 303 598 1,568 10,353 41.0 44.4
    Sales and related occupations 8,135 1,448 176 328 944 6,687 42.3 45.7
    Office and administrative support occupations 4,686 1,021 127 270 624 3,665 38.7 42.0
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations* 14,177 2,215 663 960 593 11,962 41.2 42.5
    Construction and extraction occupations 8,575 1,518 525 653 340 7,057 40.4 41.7
    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 4,871 552 99 263 190 4,320 42.3 43.4
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 13,492 1,979 413 670 897 11,513 42.0 43.9
    Production occupations 6,368 686 148 322 216 5,682 42.2 43.1
    Transportation and material moving occupations 7,124 1,293 265 348 681 5,831 41.8 44.7
Women, 16 years and over 62,612 19,814 2,130 4,306 13,377 42,798 36.1 41.1
Management, professional, and related occupations 23,393 5,991 392 1,812 3,787 17,402 38.1 41.9
    Management, business, and financial operations occupations 8,350 1,581 81 616 884 6,769 40.5 43.0
    Professional and related occupations 15,043 4,410 311 1,196 2,902 10,633 36.9 41.2
Service occupations 12,704 5,547 814 700 4,033 7,157 33.1 40.6
Sales and office occupations 21,882 7,138 695 1,503 4,940 14,744 35.3 40.3
    Sales and related occupations 7,710 3,127 392 416 2,318 4,583 34.1 41.2
    Office and administrative support occupations 14,171 4,011 303 1,087 2,621 10,160 36.0 39.9
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations* 676 177 36 49 92 499 37.6 41.1
    Construction and extraction occupations 257 69 17 20 32 188 37.6 40.9
    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 206 35 2 16 17 170 39.0 40.8
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 3,957 961 193 242 526 2,996 37.6 40.8
    Production occupations 2,731 529 113 161 255 2,202 38.7 40.9
    Transportation and material moving occupations 1,226 432 80 81 270 794 35.3 40.6

In 2005, according to Employment and Earnings (BLS, January 2006), 104 million Americans out of the total nonfarm laborer population of 136.2 million (76.3%) were working full-time (defined as thirty-five hours or more), while the remaining 23.7% were working fewer than thirty-five hours per workweek (defined as part-time). The average part- and full-time workweek in 2005 was 39.2 hours per week, while the average full-time employee worked 42.9 hours per week. The total part-time workforce of 32.4 million comprised 12.5 million men (38.6%) and 19.9 million women (61.4%). Of those who usually work full-time, men worked an average of 44.2 hours per week in 2005, and women worked an average of 41.1 hours per week. (See Table 2.3.) In 2005, 27.9% of all nonfarm workers spent more than forty-one hours per week on the job, and 44.2% of agricultural workers labored more than forty-one hours per week. (See Table 2.4.)

Some occupations require more time than others. For example, in 2005, transportation and material-moving workers labored an average of 40.9 hours per week TABLE 2.4 Agriculture, agriculture-related, and nonagricultural workers by hours of work, 2005 "19. Persons at Work in Agriculture and Related and in Nonagricultural Industries by Hours of Work," in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat19.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)(44.2 hours for workers on full-time schedules). Workers in management, business, and financial occupations averaged 43.5 hours per week (45.5 hours per week for full-time). (See Table 2.3.)

TABLE 2.4
Agriculture, agriculture-related, and nonagricultural workers by hours of work, 2005
Hours of work 2005
Thousands of persons Percent distribution
All industries Agriculture and related industries Nonagricultural industries All industries Agriculture and related industries Nonagricultural industries
Note: Dash indicates no data or data that do not meet publication criteria.
SOURCE: "19. Persons at Work in Agriculture and Related and in Nonagricultural Industries by Hours of Work," in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat19.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)
    Total, 16 years and over 136,218 2,103 134,115 100,0 100,0 100,0
1 to 34 hours 32,268 550 31,717 23.7 26.2 23.6
    1 to 4 hours 1,385 54 1,330 1.0 2.6 1.0
    5 to 14 hours 4,990 138 4,852 3.7 6.6 3.6
    15 to 29 hours 16,008 246 15,762 11.8 11.7 11.8
     30 to 34 hours 9,885 112 9,773 7.3 5.3 7.3
35 hours and over 103,950 1,553 102,397 76.3 73.8 76.4
    35 to 39 hours 9,371 103 9,269 6.9 4.9 6.9
    40 hours 56,179 520 55,659 41.2 24.7 41.5
    41 hours and over 38,400 930 37,470 28.2 44.2 27.9
        41 to 48 hours 13,609 147 13,463 10.0 7.0 10.0
        49 to 59 hours 14,569 256 14,313 10.7 12.2 10.7
        60 hours and over 10,222 528 9,694 7.5 25.1 7.2
Average hours, total at work 39.2 43.7 39.1
Average hours, persons who usually work full time 42.9 49.9 42.8

Many employees are working longer hours by skipping or shortening their lunch breaks. The National Restaurant Association reported (in "What's for Lunch? A Survey of Full-Time Employees," 2002) that 40.6% of the surveyed workers reported they did not leave the office for a lunch break. Forty-five percent reported they had less time for lunch than they ever had. A frequently expressed motivation for staying on the job was a fear of being downsized.

An earlier study by Philip L. Ronces and others ("Trends in the Hours of Work since the Mid-1970s," Monthly Labor Review, April 1997), attributed growth in the share of workers reporting very long workweeks to a shift in employment toward high-hour, increased responsibility occupations such as managers, professionals, and certain sales workers. During the 1990s, longer workweeks were also reported by associations representing secretaries and restaurant owners/employees.

Survey of Workers' Hours

Of the respondents to an August 2005 Gallup Poll, 45% reported that they worked between thirty-five and forty-four hours per week; 30% worked between forty-five and fifty-nine hours per week; and 9% worked more than sixty hours each week. These numbers had fluctuated somewhat over the previous fifteen years but had not changed significantly in a manner that indicated a decided trend except at the high end, where fewer workers were reporting that they worked sixty hours or more. In a poll conducted during July 1991, for example, 44% of workers said that their typical workweek was between thirty-five and forty-four hours; 27% worked between forty-five and fifty-nine hours per week; and 13% worked more than sixty hours per week. In 1991 the median workweek (half of respondents said they worked more, and half said they worked less) was 43.4 hours and the average workweek was forty hours. In 2005 the median workweek of those surveyed was 41.9 hours, and the average workweek was forty hours.

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As to the flexibility of their work schedule, respondents to the August 2005 Gallup Poll were generally satisfied. Sixty-two percent of respondents indicated that they were completely satisfied with the flexibility of their hours; 23% were somewhat satisfied; 8% were somewhat dissatisfied; and 6% were completely dissatisfied with their flexibility. The percentage of those who were completely satisfied had increased markedly from those surveyed in July 1991. At that time only 39% of respondents reported that they were completely satisfied with the flexibility of their work schedule, while 44% were somewhat satisfied, 10% were somewhat dissatisfied, and 6% were completely dissatisfied.

Part-Time Work

People work part-time for various reasons. In 2005, as reported by the BLS in Employment and Earnings, 4.4 million of the total 32.3 million part-time workers (13.5%) took part-time work due to economic conditions. TABLE 2.5 Persons at work 1 to 34 hours by reason for working less than 35 hours and usual full- or part-time status, 2005 "20. Persons at Work 1 to 34 Hours in All and in Nonagricultural Industries by Reason for Working Less than 35 Hours and Usual Full- or Part-time Status," in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat20.pdf (accessed January 9, 2006)These economic reasons, usually caused by employers' circumstances, included 2.7 million (8.3% of all part-time workers) who cited slack work and 1.3 million (4.2%) who could only find part-time work. Most workers (27.9 million, or 86.5%) who usually worked part-time did so for noneconomic reasons, which included 6.2 million (19.3% of all part-time workers) who were enrolled in school or other training programs and 5.6 million (17.2%) who cited family and personal obligations. (See Table 2.5.)

TABLE 2.5
Persons at work 1 to 34 hours by reason for working less than 35 hours and usual full- or part-time status, 2005
[Numbers in thousands]
Reason for working less than 35 hours 2005
All industries Nonagricultural industries
Total Usually work full time Usually work part time Total Usually work full time Usually work part time
Note: Dash indicates no data or data that do not meet publication criteria.
SOURCE: "20. Persons at Work 1 to 34 Hours in All and in Nonagricultural Industries by Reason for Working Less than 35 Hours and Usual Full- or Part-time Status," in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat20.pdf (accessed January 9, 2006)
    Total, 16 years and over 32,268 9,983 22,285 31,717 9,818 21,900
Economic reasons 4,350 1,556 2,794 4,271 1,504 2,766
    Slack work or business conditions 2,684 1,294 1,390 2,636 1,260 1,376
    Could only find part-time work 1,341 1,341 1,330 1,330
    Seasonal work 188 125 63 169 109 60
    Job started or ended during week 137 137 136 136
Noneconomic reasons 27,918 8,427 19,491 27,477 8,313 19,134
    Child-care problems 791 72 719 787 72 715
    Other family or personal obligations 5,558 745 4,813 5,469 734 4,735
    Health or medical limitations 806 806 784 784
    In school or training 6,237 98 6,138 6,180 97 6,083
    Retired or Social Security limit on earnings 2,095 2,095 1,980 1,980
    Vacation or personal day 3,431 3,431 3,395 3,395
    Holiday, legal or religious 910 910 895 895
    Weather-related curtailment 513 513 485 485
    All other reasons 7,588 2,668 4,920 7,472 2,635 4,837
Average hours:
    Economic reasons 23.0 23.8 22.5 23.0 23.8 22.5
    Other reasons 21.5 25.2 19.8 21.5 25.3 19.9
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