March 3 is Employee Appreciation Day and Americans work an average of 1,791 hours per year, much more than people in many other industrialized countries, a new report called 2023’s Hardest-Working Cities in America shines light.

To determine where Americans work the hardest, WalletHub compared the 116 largest cities across 11 key metrics. The data set ranges from employment rate to average hours worked per week to share of workers with multiple jobs.

Top 20 Hardest-Working Cities in America
1. San Francisco, CA11. Nashville, TN
2. Anchorage, AK12. Plano, TX
3. Irving, TX13. Chesapeake, VA
4. Virginia Beach, VA14. Billings, MT
5. Washington, DC15. Chandler, AZ
6. Sioux Falls, SD16. Denver, CO
7. Norfolk, VA17. Corpus Christi, TX
8. Cheyenne, WY18. Scottsdale, AZ
9. Dallas, TX19. Fort Worth, TX
10. Austin, TX20. Garland, TX

Key Stats

  • Irving, Texas, has the lowest share of households where no adults work, 11.04 percent, 3.7 times lower than Detroit, the city with the highest at 40.57 percent.
  • New York City has the longest average commute time, 41.40 minutes, which is 2.8 times longer than Cheyenne, Wyoming, the city with the shortest at 15.00 minutes.
  • Baltimore contributes the most annual volunteer hours per resident, 45.10, which is 5.7 times more than Jacksonville, Florida, the city that contributes the fewest at 7.89.
  • San Jose, California, has the lowest share of idle youth 16-24 years old, 7.00 percent, 2.8 times lower than Albuquerque, New Mexico, the city with the highest at 19.70 percent.

Here’s What the Experts Say

Does working more hours always translate into higher productivity? Does this vary by industry or job type?

“We would hope it would, but we know that more skilled people can do the same tasks in less time. A less competent employee spending more time on a task is not more productive than a more competent one spending less time on it. Lots of factors can impact the relationship between time worked and actual performance,” said Peter Cappelli, professor; director at the Center for Human Resources, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

“Certainly, this varies by worker and job, but productivity studies have shown that for most workers and most jobs, once you get over 55 hours a week, most workers generally are adding very little to total output. Productivity studies done to maximize war production during WWII showed this result, and more recent studies continue to confirm it. Employers and workers who work longer than this think they are increasing production because they continue to get things done, but in the long-run productivity is greatest with regular breaks and recreation,” said Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, J.D., Ph.D., a professor at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Work Day Length

Research points to an increase in the average workday length in recent years. What factors do you think prompted this change when working from home (no commuting, having difficulty in drawing the line between work and home, etc.) 

“I think the line between work and home or off work had already started to become blurred due to the growing work demands related to technological advances. Employees were and are increasingly being expected to check and respond to emails and texts even during off-work hours. Certain businesses allowed and even expected employees to bring their own devices and smartphones and use them to perform their duties. This merges personal and off-duty activities as you use the same device to engage in these activities. COVID likely exacerbated this blurring by expanding the virtual workplace and creating new workplace terms such as virtual platform fatigue. The shift from a 40-hour workweek to almost a 24-hour-a-day setting, at least for some days of that workweek, is mostly due to technological innovations in my opinion. These technical developments have made it easier for workers to turn on their devices at home or off duty and respond to electronic communications. They can open their laptops or tablets to spend more hours working when they would have been functioning in a structural office setting mostly over a 40-hour workday before the technical advancements that now play such a role in how employees perform their work duties,” said Michael Z. Green, a professor, and director, Workplace Law Program, Texas A&M University School of Law.

“In part, I think the lengthening of the workday reflects the change in the technology of work in the information age. It is very hard to draw a line between work and leisure when the internet allows many people to work, and makes them available to co-workers, at almost any hour of the day. Another factor in the lengthening of the work week has been the rise in inequality that has accompanied the information age. As productivity increased in the first half of the twentieth century, the average workday decreased from 10 or more hours to 8. However, even though productivity has continued to rise since 1980, most of that increase in wealth has gone to the upper class and working people have felt more and more pressure to work hard to try to keep up. Increased income and wealth inequality is forcing workers to want long hours to try to ensure that their families maintain their relative place in the standard of living,” Dau-Schmidt said.

American Workers

What policies should governments and firms adopt to improve the quality of life of American workers?

“Enforcing current laws would help. For example, many workers should not be treated as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act – in other words, simply shifting someone to a salaried job title if their actual work does not change much is a misclassification,” Cappelli said.

“Paid parental leaves and longer paid vacations would be a good start. Also, larger overtime and holiday premiums. As American workers rediscovered during the pandemic, time with children, spouses, and loved ones is what makes life, and work, worthwhile. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid parental leave and our norm of 2 weeks of paid vacation is half the European standard. In China, workers get triple their time if they work on a national holiday, and they have a lot of national holidays. Wouldn’t it be great for retail workers to get to spend holidays with their families? Or, at least be compensated very well if they are required to work?” Dau-Schmidt said.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit here.

Source: WalletHub