NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Families And Work Inst. Study: Americans Working Longer (SUMMARY)

April 15, 1998

Americans are working longer, harder and faster than 20 years ago, according to a major new study from the Families and Work Institute. But workers report that the workplace is more supportive, flexible and satisfying than it used to be.

  • The average work week has increased 3.5 hours in 20 years -- from 43.6 hours in 1977 to 47.1 hours in 1997.
  • One-third of workers bring work home at least once a week -- up 10 percent from 1977.
  • Eighty-eight percent of employees say their jobs require them to work very hard, up from 70 percent in 1977 -- and 68 percent report having to work very fast, a 13 percent increase in 20 years.
  • However, 44 percent of workers are able to choose, within a range, when they begin and end their workday -- and 66 percent say they can easily take time off during the workday for personal matters.

Most employees say their immediate supervisors are supportive. Compared with workers in 1977, today's workers have more autonomy, more responsibility in determining how their jobs get done and more say in what happens in the workplace.

The wide-ranging survey assessed 2,725 nationally representative employees and was sponsored by 15 major corporations.

Source: Karen S. Peterson, "Working Hours are Longer, But Workplaces Seem Nicer," USA Today, April 15, 1998.


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