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Workdays In America Got Slightly Longer In 2011

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Americans' workdays grew slightly longer in 2011, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.
Americans' workdays grew slightly longer in 2011, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.

Do you feel like your workdays have been getting longer? That's probably because they have.

Americans spent more time at work in 2011 than they did the year before, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday. It's not a big bump -- people with jobs spent an average of 7.99 hours a day working and doing work-related activities last year, as opposed to 7.82 hours a day in 2010. But it's interesting to note, especially when you look at how that number has climbed and dipped over the years.

In 2006, the same BLS survey found employed Americans working an average of 8.06 hours a week. In 2007, it was 7.98 hours, and in 2008 it was 7.99. Then, as we all know, the economy had a bit of a stumble.

The following year, in 2009, the hours-per-day-worked figure had dropped off to 7.78. And in 2010 it was 7.82, still considerably below the eight-hour mark it had hovered around before the recession.

So now that we're back up to the more-or-less eight-hour day, does this mean everything's hunky-dory in America? Well, manifestly not, what with all the poverty and the foreclosure and the unemployment.

But the jobless rate did sink in 2011, and (more people working) x (more hours worked) = more work, overall. That could be taken as a positive sign for the economy, for anyone who might want to highlight such a thing and whose name rhymes with Shmarack Fofama.

An alternative interpretation is that since the job market is, by any objective measure, still lousy, employers feel comfortable asking their workers to put in longer days, and workers feel like they don't have the leverage to push back. This would be a sign of that great speedup you've been hearing about -- the slow and steady creep of bosses and executives demanding ever more of their underlings while paying them more or less the same as before.

Also interesting to note in the survey is that Americans spend an average of two hours and 45 minutes every day watching television. Two hours and 45 minutes! But on the other hand, there are a lot of good shows on right now. Did you see Community this season? They did a timelines episode!

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