It’s midnight on a Wednesday and I’m sitting at my keyboard after a 10-hour day trying to finish an article on whether Americans work too much. This is a prank, right?
Sadly, it’s more like a typical day for most freelance writers, and we’re becoming part of the norm. With an increasingly competitive job market, Americans are logging in more time at work and skipping vacation time. According to the left leaning Center for American Progress, 86 percent of U.S. men and 67 percent of women work more than 40 hours a week, and American families worked an average of 11 hours more per week in 2006 than they did in 1979. Though the shift has helped companies cut expenses and increased U.S. productivity, a growing number of studies show that the extra work is negatively affecting our health, family lives, and effectiveness at work.
For one, workers and their bosses often are not being paid for their extra time. Twenty-four percent of employees and forty-seven percent of employers work six or more hours a week without pay, concluded a 2007 study by corporate staffing firm Randstad. And research in 2008 by the Pew Research Center showed that 22 percent of Americans are expected to respond to work email when they’re not at work, half check job email on weekends, and a third do so while on vacation.