What's going on?
A recent University of Maryland study has shown that the average US workweek has dipped by over 30 minutes since 2019. The study found that high-earning young men saw the largest reduction, with their work hours down by 1.5 hours. Even self-proclaimed workaholics have reduced their working hours, with high-hour employees now averaging 52 hours per week, down from 55. The biggest declines were seen among employees aged 16-54, while Black and Hispanic employees aged 55+ saw the least change.
Why should I care?
The decline in work hours is great news for the mental health of American workers. Burnout is a serious problem in the US, where work hours are often well beyond those of other countries. According to UN data, Americans work 400 more hours per year than Germans, which is the equivalent of 10 whole weeks of work.
However, while the decline in work hours may be good news for workers, it could complicate the economy at large. The Maryland study estimated that the reduction in work hours is equivalent to the labor of 2.4 million employees. This labor shortfall could heat up the job market and put pressure on employers to keep wages up, making the Fed's inflation-fighting job harder.
Link to full study here.