Editor: we updated this work in 2014 and broke down the data by hours worked. Please read that piece as well.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” Wise words from a man who died with the equivalent of $1,000,000 in today’s dollars worth of debt – but his words still ring true today. I wrote this article on a whim when I tried to find data on the amount of hours worked per week broken down by individual income. Let me save you some time; that data is nowhere to be found. I can tell you this… the average American private sector worker works 34.3 hours in an week. I can also tell you that the average American worker making an income from $100,000 to $149,999 puts in 45.09 hours in a usual week, 34.3% more than the average worker making between $10,000 and $19,999. So I ask you, dear reader, how many hours a week do you work?
Occupy Wall Street: Why the Top 1% Don’t Have Time to Join
It’s never fun to be on the other side of a populist uprising, but the top 1% of all earners are probably too busy to pay much attention to the goings-on at street level. One of the reasons they are so successful at earning money is the sheer amount of time they spend at their jobs. For every income bracket that I looked at, the next higher income level worked more hours on average. (To reproduce my data set, toss out earners below $10,000 and those who worked 0 hours from 2010-2011 CPS data at IPUMS-CPS).
Source of Data
Miriam King, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.
If You Work Hard, You’ll Earn More Money
I hope that the Occupy Everywhere movement does consider data driven arguments – people who earn more are also working more hours in a usual week than those who are making less. When we talk about raising taxes on the ‘rich’ or the ‘top 1%’, it’s good to consider that the reason a lot of people are in that position is due to their incredible work ethics. For every Russell Simmons and Kanye West, who no longer have to work 40+ hours a week, there are loads of Americans still putting in more than their fair share of time at the office.
So, readers, how many hours do you work in an average week?