Why Americans Are Working Less Today

Why Americans Are Working Less Today

Ever feel that your workweek couldn't possibly get any longer? Well, don’t try complaining about it to your parents—or your grandparents—because they'll probably tell you that you have it pretty easy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing that today's American workers clock in fewer hours per week than previous generations, CNN Money reports. According to the study, the average workweek has declined from more than 38 hours in 1964 to under 34 hours in 2013.


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And our great-grandparents had it much worse. An employee in the 1860s worked around 62 hours per week—that's almost twice as much as today's worker. Before that, in the 1600s, most people had a sun-up-to-sun-down workday, thanks to Puritanical beliefs about "idle hands" being the "devil's workshop."

Why the Change in Pace?

Given the economic climate, it is hard to believe that our parents and grandparents worked more than Americans today. With smartphones and on-the-go email, work is literally at our fingertips all the time. So how is it that we are working less?

One reason is that there are more part-time jobs than ever, due to more women entering the workforce and more businesses, like restaurants and retail stores, offering part-time employment. People are also staying in school longer and retiring earlier, which means spending less time on the clock. Plus, certain jobs have been replaced by technology (automated customer service, for example), so there are fewer functions for workers to perform.

RELATED: The Rise of Breadwinning Moms

With a decrease in work hours comes a big jump in leisure time, from 35 hours per week in 1965 to 42 hours a week in 2012. So just what are people doing with their free time these days?

Well, watching TV, of course.


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