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Average Americans working less than their parents did

Published: Monday, July 29 2013 2:25 p.m. MDT

Working longer is a thing of the past, if you only look at averages. This worker is not average and may be endangering his health.

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Do you feel like you are working long hours? It could be worse. You could be working as long as your parents did.

An article by Steve Hargreaves in CNN/Money found that Americans are working much less now than they did a generation ago.

"The average work week has gone from over 38 hours in 1964 to under 34 hours in 2013 — a drop of nearly 12 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics," Hargreaves writes. "A big reason for the decline is the growth in part-time jobs, which have surged as more women entered the workforce and the number of restaurants, shopping malls and other establishments that employ part-time workers have exploded."

In other words, it is all about averages. One of those "if your feet are in ice water and your hands in boiling water on the average you feel fine" sort of things.

So, you really might be working a lot more.

Yet, people report more leisure time than in the '60s — up from 35 hours a week in 1965 to 42 hours in 2012.

If, by some lucky chance, you are working more than the "average American," there may be some dangers.

David DiSalvo in Forbes warns that working long hours could kill you: "The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that a combination of stress, raised blood pressure and unhealthy diets stemming from long working hours may be the cause of thousands of workers' serious health problems. The study combined the results of different studies over the last 50 years and found that spending too long in the office resulted in a 40 to 80 percent greater chance of heart disease compared to an eight-hour work day."

Matt McMillen at CNN Health says this is depressing: "(A) study, which followed 2,123 British civil servants for six years, found that workers who put in an average of at least 11 hours per day at the office had roughly two-and-a-half times higher odds of developing depression than their colleagues who clocked out after seven or eight hours. The link between long workdays and depression persisted even after the researchers took into account factors such as job strain, the level of support in the workplace, alcohol use, smoking and chronic physical diseases."

Some may take long hours as a point of pride. Jill Felska at the tech and design blog Path.To begs to differ: "Repeat after me: Longer hours do not equal more productivity. In fact, more often than not, long hours equal the complete opposite. They mean you have not figured out how to manage your priorities, have committed to too much or are working in an office atmosphere that is not the right fit for you. This is no longer the industrial revolution. No longer do we produce X-number of widgets per hour. Instead, we are working by the flow of our brain, energy and motivation, which can vary day by day. In short, our entire idea of the workday (a.k.a. the 9 to 5) is based on a model from an era that no longer exists!"

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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