What Is The Average Hours Per Week Worked In The US?

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 22, 2020

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Depending on your company and job, the time you spend at work could surpass your time at home. You’re not alone in this statistic. The majority of Americans work 34.4 hours per week as of May 2019, taking into consideration various job fields, salaries, experience levels, and more.

It’s typically a good idea to understand the average hours per week worked in your country so that you can use that information to help choose the right job. Understanding how many hours you’re expected to work in contrast to the average amount of hours work will help you negotiate for more pay, manage your priorities better, and be a key deciding factor as to whether or not you take a new job opportunity.

The number of hours you work constitutes time spent at your paid place of employment or doing things for your paid place of employment. These hours do not take into account personal housework, caring for dependents, or running errands.

The time you work at or for your place of employment depends heavily on economic conditions, where you live, and lifestyle choices. Below, we discuss the average times worked by Americans and break down how different experience levels, education levels, and job types can significantly impact this number.

Average Hours Worked Per Week

The average hours per week worked by Americans is just over 34 but can vary due to several factors.

  • Age. Young teenagers between 16 and 19 years of age worked an average of 24.1 hours, while young adults between 20 and 24 years of age worked over 10 hours more, coming in at 34.8 (slightly above the overall working week average).

    These statistics are likely lower than the typical 40-hour workweek because of other priorities, such as schooling, during this age period. Depending on your state, there may also be restrictions on hour allowance for those under 18 years of age.

    For those in the typical age range for full-time work, the national average landed at 40.5, indicating that most employed adults work a 40-hour workweek.

    Those 55 and older worked just two hours under, coming in at 38 hours per week, even. This slight dip in hours likely has less to do with age than it does financial security and the need to work fewer hours in order to make ends meet.

  • Gender. Men clocked in at 41 hours per week, even in paid employment roles, while women worked, on average, 36.4 hours. This could be due to a variety of things, including roles in the home, reliance on child care, job type, and more.

  • Marital status. On average, married individuals worked more per week than their single colleagues. Married men clocked 4.5 hours more than the average single man, whereas married women worked 1.7 more on average than their single counterparts.

    Several different things might be in play, but it’s most likely that married couples have dependents to care for and therefore clock more hours for higher positions or additional pay.

  • Race and ethnicity. White Americans worked on average just under 40 hours a week, coming in at 38.9 hours. This is the same amount of hours that Asian Americans worked on average as well. African Americans aren’t far behind, working on average 38.7 hours per week, while Hispanics and Latinos worked 38.2 hours on average per week.

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    Again, these hours can be based on a variety of different things, but are most likely caused by a difference in roles, experience levels, and opportunities available.

Average Hours Worked Per Day

The number of hours worked per day varied widely. Depending on whether you’re an hourly or salaried employee, your typical worked hours in a day might vary on a weekly or even daily basis. However, the nation’s average of hours worked per day is a solid 8.5 hours, while the weekend days average landed at 5.4 hours.

Similar to hours worked per week, these can vary based on several different things:

  • Gender. Men reported 34 extra minutes of work time than employed women. This, again, is due to a variety of factors but can be attributed to more females in the part-time workforce.

    Although the gender gap is making progress, women still spent more time on household responsibilities. 84% of women and 69% of men used hours during their days for some household activity, with women reporting just under 3 hours and men spending 2 hours of their time for these things.

  • Weekends. Full-time employees worked mostly on weekdays. However, 31% of full-time employees reported that they use some portion of their weekend to catch up on work. The average employed person spent 5.4 hours on the weekends working, but self-employed workers were most likely to use that time than salaried employees.

    This also includes those who may have two jobs, such as teachers or other individuals who have part-time jobs. Those with multiple jobs were more likely to work on the weekends.

The Importance of Work-Life Balance

Based on the averages listed above, you should look at your own working hours and compare them to the national average. It’s common to have unplanned occurrences where you might need to work overtime, but committing all of your time to work without leaving any time to relax or have fun can seriously hurt your mental health.

For most of us, working is an essential part of survival. However, there’s a delicate balance that’s important to remember when you enter the workforce. The number of hours you put into your job and your personal enjoyment is often debated among not only employees but also scientists.

The reality is that nobody can answer the ideal number of work hours for any one person. The amount of hours worked is based upon many nuances depending on the person, their lifestyle, their desires, and more. Every individual is different and has different capacities for the number of responsibilities and projects they can take on. Similarly, some individuals are better as independent workers while others rely on their team members or are managers themselves, which often calls for additional working hours.

However, when you sit down and try to find your balance, most people will find that it doesn’t come from a specific number or equilibrium between work and play. Finding satisfaction in your balance truly comes from the value of your work, or whether or not you find your work meaningful. Doing a job simply to do one can eat away at your productivity and render you more inefficient than your colleagues who may be excited about the job at hand.

One revelation has found common ground among scientists and employees alike – working too much is never a good thing. The accepted average working week between 35-40 hours is okay. But once you head towards 50 working hours, you’re looking at sacrificing your mental health, overall productivity, attention to detail, ability to make levelheaded decisions, and more.

It can also impact your health. Overworking has been linked to the risk of heart problems from having an irregular pulse to coronary heart disease. Working long weeks has also been linked to diabetes and hypertension. Not just physical ailments will follow a too-long workweek. Individuals who worked over the standard workweek reported higher instances of depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality.

Final Thoughts

It can often be frustrating to keep up with others in your office, especially if you work in a highly competitive company, team, or industry. However, productivity has a plateau; working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting more done. In fact, productivity per hour falls after a person works more than 50 hours a week. This means that working long hours could not only harm you but your company as well.

If you’re having trouble managing the hours you’re putting in at work, it’s a pivotal point to bring up with your manager as a concern. You may have bitten off more than you can chew and need to hand off a project or two to others on your team. Your manager may not even know it’s an issue unless you raise it, so it’s essential to do this sooner rather than later.

Regardless of the response of your manager, setting work hour boundaries is still your responsibility. It is okay to say no to things or to leave certain projects or deliverables to the next day if you need a rest. Use your weekend time for yourself and ensure you power down from work. Although (for some productive people) it can feel wrong to just relax, your body, brain, and efficiency levels will thank you.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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