Why We're Working Less Than Our Parents Did - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Why We're Working Less Than Our Parents Did

It's a common complaint: You feel like you're working constantly, and there's never enough time to enjoy life.

But as a whole, Americans are working far less now than they did a generation ago, and have more leisure time than ever.

The average work week has gone from over 38 hours in 1964 to under 34 hours in 2013 -- a drop of nearly 12%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A big reason for the decline is the growth in part-time jobs, which have surged as more women entered the workforce and the number of restaurants, shopping malls, and other establishments that employ part-time workers have exploded.

Another explanation is that people tend to stay in school longer and retire earlier, clocking fewer hours over their lifetime. Men in their 50s, for example, have been retiring or entering semi-retirement earlier and in greater numbers than those in previous generations, according to John Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, and are partly responsible for driving down overall work hours per week.

And we're working a lot less than our grandparents, great grandparents and earlier generations. The average work week for a manufacturing employee in the 1860s was 62 hours, according to a paper from Robert Whaples, an economist at Wake Forest University.

In the 1600s, there were actually laws requiring a minimum work day, wrote Whaples. In parts of the country, most people had to work sun up to sundown -- part of the Puritanical "idle-hands-are-the-devil's-workshop" ethos.

It wasn't easy to change that culture. Political battles that led to less religious influence over the nation's laws almost sparked a civil war. A century later, labor activists fought for decades to get the 40 hour work week.

Coinciding with the shorter work week is a rise in leisure time. Americans reported having just under 35 hours a week of "free time" in 1965 -- that's time not spent at work, doing housework, eating, sleeping or doing other activities necessary for day-to-day survival, according to research by Robinson, who directs the American's Use of Time Project at the University of Maryland.

By 2012, it had reached 42, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"People feel less rushed than they did even a decade ago," said Robinson.

And thanks to modern technology, the time we spend on housework and cooking is declining.

Just what are we doing with all these extra hours? Watching more TV, mostly.

But technology certainly hasn't made all our lives easier.

Some people, especially those at the higher end of the earnings spectrum, report working more hours than they want to. This is particularly true for professionals who are now tied to their work by smartphones and email.

Also, many Americans are working part time not because they want to, but because their jobs have been replaced by automation, outsourced, or otherwise eliminated.

"The promise of technology is that we'd all get to work less," said Linda Barrington, head of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University's school of Industrial and Labor Relations. "But it's playing out differently for different people at different income levels."

Barrington believes the Affordable Care Act - a.k.a. Obamacare -- is the first real law intended to deal with some of the disruption of a changing workplace, as more Americans enter freelance or part-time positions that don't provide health insurance.

As happened during the industrial revolution, she feels other measures will need to take shape to make the technological revolution more beneficial to all workers.

"How are we going to change the rules again?" she asked.

From: CNN

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • WATCH: Toy Story 4 trailer released

    WATCH: Toy Story 4 trailer released

    Monday, November 12 2018 11:49 AM EST2018-11-12 16:49:24 GMT

    KHQ.COM - Toy Story 4 is coming! Disney-Pixar released the first trailer for the long-awaited sequel on Monday. The new installment in the franchise was confirmed three years ago and last April it was confirmed the release would happen in the summer of 2019.

    >>

    KHQ.COM - Toy Story 4 is coming! Disney-Pixar released the first trailer for the long-awaited sequel on Monday. The new installment in the franchise was confirmed three years ago and last April it was confirmed the release would happen in the summer of 2019.

    >>
  • Lewiston man dies in hunting accident

    Lewiston man dies in hunting accident

    Monday, November 12 2018 4:26 PM EST2018-11-12 21:26:40 GMT

    LEWISTON, Idaho - Authorities say a north-central Idaho man died while hunting Sunday morning after accidentally shooting himself. The Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office says 25-year-old Ryan S. Rigney of Lewiston was hunting near Soldiers Meadow Lake when he accidentally discharged his gun.

    >>

    LEWISTON, Idaho - Authorities say a north-central Idaho man died while hunting Sunday morning after accidentally shooting himself. The Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office says 25-year-old Ryan S. Rigney of Lewiston was hunting near Soldiers Meadow Lake when he accidentally discharged his gun. The Lewiston Tribune reports emergency medical crews were sent to the rural location about 7:42 a.m. but lifesaving measures were unsuccessful and Rigney died at the scene.

    >>
  • Two Clarkston residents arrested arrested in connection with methamphetamine trafficking

    Two Clarkston residents arrested arrested in connection with methamphetamine trafficking

    Sunday, November 11 2018 9:33 PM EST2018-11-12 02:33:21 GMT

    After several months of investigation, detectives arrested two Clarkston residents in connection with methamphetamine trafficking as well as a third person for resisting arrest. 

    >>

    After several months of investigation, detectives arrested two Clarkston residents in connection with methamphetamine trafficking as well as a third person for resisting arrest. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 9th

    Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 9th

    Friday, November 9 2018 5:11 PM EST2018-11-09 22:11:12 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 9th.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 9th.

    >>
  • Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 8th

    Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 8th

    Thursday, November 8 2018 5:45 PM EST2018-11-08 22:45:09 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 8th.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 8th.

    >>
  • Should Aaron Hernandez's conviction have been tossed?

    Should Aaron Hernandez's conviction have been tossed?

    Thursday, November 8 2018 1:53 AM EST2018-11-08 06:53:29 GMT

    BOSTON (AP) - The highest court in Massachusetts will consider whether the state should scrap a legal principle that erased the murder conviction of Aaron Hernandez after the former New England Patriots player killed himself in prison.   At issue in the case before the Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday is a rule that holds that a defendant who dies before an appeal is heard should no longer be considered guilty in the eyes of the law.    

    >>

    BOSTON (AP) - The highest court in Massachusetts will consider whether the state should scrap a legal principle that erased the murder conviction of Aaron Hernandez after the former New England Patriots player killed himself in prison.   At issue in the case before the Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday is a rule that holds that a defendant who dies before an appeal is heard should no longer be considered guilty in the eyes of the law.    

    >>