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How Many Americans Work More Than 40 Hours Per Week?

hiyori13, flickr

The eight-hour workday is fairly standard in the United States, and June 19 marks the 100th anniversary of it becoming law for federal workers back in 1912.

Private companies began to follow suit four years later, but these days, working only eight hours a day sometimes seems downright quaint.

In fact, according to a recent study, 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women in the US routinely put in more than the standard 40 hours.

You can thank labor groups for the eight-hour standard. In the late 1800s, tens of thousands of union employees went on strike to demand it, and the Fair Labor Standards Act — which set the maximum workweek at 40 hours with extra pay for anything over that — was first proposed in 1938.

Fast-forward to the modern age, though, and you see stressed-out employees who are always connected to the office via their computers or smartphones. And since so many people were laid off when the economy tanked a few years ago, a lot of the workers left behind have felt pressured to take up the slack — resulting in a workweek that often exceeds 40 hours.

But if you’ve had enough of working non-stop, you might consider a move to Sweden, where employees are now clocking just 26 hours per week. And even though that seems positively utopian, it marks a two-decade high, and a union there is complaining loudly about it.

[Visual Economics]

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