Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's off to work we go

According to a study by the National Sleep Association the average American works a 46 hour work week. I've seen other studies giving other figures, but this seems to be slightly low in my estimation.
When I started work in the U.K. at age 19. My required work week was a 35 hour week. I was also on a flex time system, I had to be at work from 10-12 and 2-4 but apart from that it was up to me. At the end of each month I could be up to 10 hours over or under the required total, and, if I had 7 hours over I could use those hours to take a vacation time.

And talking about vacation time, when I started I had 20 days vacation a year, plus the 12 potential 'flex days' plus national holidays (8 by my calculations).

So at age 19 I worked a 35 hour work week and could get 40 days off a year!

Compare that with the average American of 46+ hours a week, 10-15 days off a year plus national holidays.

Moving to the U.S. was a shock for me.

People here seem to be defined by their 'work' a lot more than I was used to in the U.K.

One other piece of data that is alarming:
There is a massive spike in Suicide among males in the U.S. when they reach retirement age. I don't think the American work ethic is a cause, but the statistical correlation is disturbing.
Here are the U.K. figures.

A much lower suicide rate among Males. So, are the Brits lazy or the U.S. work obsessed???

Thoughts anyone???


alayna said...

I don't much about Brits, but I definitely think Americans are defined by what they do. By the way, I need that french onion soup recipe for the crockpot you mentioned on Sean's blog - that is my absolute favorite soup, and to make it in the crockpot - yum!

Helen McGinn said...

I first started working at 13 for 90 pence an hour with no breaks...*L* I am still in my thirties even though that makes me sound 100....

Becca said...

Yes. We are too defined by our jobs. I find it unsettling and disturbing as well. Ryan works ALL THE TIME. He is good about it so that it doesn't interfere with time with me or the kids, but every day he works on work stuff at our kitchen table long after everyone else goes to bed. I have friends who think I'm lucky because he gets home before eight o'clock every night. It's way, way out of hand! How on earth could we ever both work full-time?

Jerry Faust said...

I definitely think that working hours are too long (on average) in the States.

Here in Canada, I work a 35-hour work week and take 6 weeks of vacation time each year. We also have 10 statutory holidays (including Boxing Day), so that translates to about 8 weeks of time off each year. Also, if I get sick, I have a 'separate' pool of sick leave that I can use so that I am not required to use vacation time.

I ultimately hope that the English-speaking nations (USA, Canada, UK, etc) follow the lead of the Scandinavian countries as their working hours are generally less than ours. :)

Deidra said...

I think your words are so true. Obviously my dad had a lot of other things going on but he had lost his job as well this year. So I think a lot of people especially men are defined by what they do for a living and if that is taken away either by choice or not and they have no other hobbies or things they enjoy then suicide become prevalent well at least with my dad.