Workers Choose Family Time Over Raises


family timeThis post originally appeared on MainStreet.

December is not only the last month on the calendar; it’s also a month where many Americans reflect upon the year that’s on the way out and make some hard decisions about work, life, family and finances that they’ll put in place early next year.

The Keep Good Going Report from New York Life offers some clarity to the annual year-end soul-searching and self-reflection from Main Street Americans, and even a glimpse of how Americans “grade” themselves on key family and finance issues going into 2013.

The study starts with a fairly startling premise–that “very few” Americans would trade time off with family for a 50% raise in annual income. The wide-ranging study of more than 2,000 Americans also says that, despite tough economic times and lots of hand-wringing over debt and income, Americans still believe they’re doing well in one critical area: their family life.

While 71% of Americans would “be happier” with more money, that doesn’t mean they’re willing to trade family time with a big raise in pay, the study says. When asked what they would exchange for a 50% pay increase, they gave responses that tell a lot about how much U.S. adults value their family life:

What percentage of Americans would take a 50% pay increase in exchange for …

  • Time with children: 11%
  • Time with spouse or partner: 20%
  • More sleep every night: 33%
  • Vacation time: 35%
  • Activities or hobbies: 43%
  • Time with friends: 45%
  • Evenings off from work: 54%

“Despite the impact of a tough economic environment and people’s conviction that life would be easier with more money, a 50% pay raise still didn’t move the needle when it came to cutting down on time spent with family – children and spouses. This is very telling about what Americans value,” says Liz McCarthy, director of corporate communications at New York Life.