NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPF Study: Hours Worked By Household Type

December 1, 2000

While more and more Americans claim they feel pressured or stressed for time, the cause may lie outside the workplace, suggests a study from the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF). The study found that total household hours spent working has changed little in the last decade. However, since more married women with children are working, for that type of household work pressures may have increased.

The EPF analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data divides households into eight categories: dual earner married couple households with and without children; single-earner married couple households with and without children; female-headed households with and without children; and male-headed households with and without children.

  • The greatest the workday increased was 23 minutes a day for dual-earners with kids --shared between the two earners.
  • For workers with dual-incomes and no kids, the length of the workday has not changed since 1989.
  • And in single-earner married households with children, the workday actually decreased by an average of 8 minutes a day.

This "traditional" American family -- with one working spouse and children -- is now less than 20 percent of all American households.

However, there are differences in dual-earner households in the number of hours husbands work compared to wives.

  • In dual-earner households with kids, husbands work 10.2 hours more per week than their wives, a number that has decreased by 1.2 hours -- almost 11 percent -- since 1989.
  • The spousal difference in work hours among households without children is 5.9 hours per week, a gap that has also narrowed since 1989 -- from 6.9 hours.

Thus, the hours husbands and wives work are slowly converging.

Source: "Virtually No Change in Household Working Hours," Employment Trends, November 30, 2000, Employment Policy Foundation, 1015 15th Street, N.W., Suite 1200, D.C. 20005, (202) 789-8685.


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