What Is the Percentage of Hours People Work in the USA?

Lack of sleep is one of the side-effects of overwork.

Lack of sleep is one of the side-effects of overwork.

Out of almost 134 countries, only one does not set a limit on the amount of hours that people can work. If you are thinking that one country is the United States, then give yourself a gold star. The USA is a nation of worker bees and there are no signs of a slowdown. Advances in technology have helped extend the average work day, meaning that people can now work more than ever before.

Americans Spend Many Hours at Work

In 2012, Americans worked an average 7.7 hours a day during a typical work week and about 5.7 hours on the weekends. Men work approximately 55 more minutes per day than women. Americans work longer hours than average. About 66.5 percent of women work more than the standard 40-hour work week. Not all of this work happens in a typical workplace; about 23 percent of Americans do at least some work from home.

Work Doesn’t Stop at 5

Logging off of the computer in the afternoons does not signal the end of the workday for many people. Actually, for about 23 percent of workers, the afternoon just signals them to move their computers to the home office. About 56 percent of self-employed workers work at home and 42 percent work on the weekends. Education plays a role in whether or not you find yourself working in the evenings. Approximately 38 percent of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher did extra work at home compared to 5 percent of people with only a high school degree.

USA Versus Other Countries

France and Finland are very generous to their workers, granting them 30 days of vacation time annually. Americans aren’t quite so lucky, averaging about 13 days a year. In America, the option of vacations and vacation pay is left up to the employer; in other industrialized countries, vacations are mandated. Since Americans take less leave, they work more -- considerably more than the French, who work 499 fewer hours than Americans do. The Japanese work less than Americans, 137 hours less. Even when Americans get vacation time, they don’t always take it. A report from Expedia states that workers often left 2 out of 13 vacation days not taken each year.

Technology is Not Improving Things

Advances in technology mean that workers no longer need to be in front of a computer to read and answer emails, meetings can be virtual, and an office is not needed to accomplish work. This means that even though they are not at work, employees can still be working. They are often not paid for checking emails, returning calls and researching while off the clock, but many Americans just consider this the cost of doing business.

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About the Author

Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.

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