# Do americans really work so many hours?

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
nameta9 said:
From those I know and see most work about 8 hours, 5 days a week. But I read on the internet that alot of americans work 50 hours or more a week. Is this really true or is it only a small portion of the population? Thanks for any real life data! I feel that people are either a) exaggerating or b) lying or c) just wasting alot of time at work to add up hours.
In my line of work, 80 hour weeks are common. Any high dollar, large scale project has deadlines. When I or others in my field [industrial automation] have a deadline, when it's crunch time, typically you work as much as needed; even if, as often happens, it means going for days or even weeks with hardly any sleep.

I think we in western europe can learn a great deal from the US. You Americans work harder, more efficiently, and you are more honest and more direct (at least in my personal experience). You guys are not slowed down by an ancient history of Roman-prosetilism and nepotism.

And you guys have a very efficient political system (you are better of being lazy over here in Belgium, France,...) but if you wanna achieve something, you guys get on with it...

marlon

ps : your president recently visited Belgium...i can only say : you guys have a great president, nomatter what the French say about him...VIVA BUSH

i'll run and hide now :)

jcsd
Gold Member
Long hours aren't particualrly great, the Uk has the longets hours in Europe, but IIRC the lowest productivity.

jcsd said:
Long hours aren't particualrly great, the Uk has the longets hours in Europe, but IIRC the lowest productivity.
No but americans are the most productive species around...Just look at the number of Nobel-prize winners, their great corporations, and their FANTASTIC actors (though there are some failures too, ain't that so mr Chevy Chase :rofl: )

marlon

America is just an experiment in pure capitalism, and it is going down hill for them,just take a look at their finnancess :yuck:

spender said:
America is just an experiment in pure capitalism, and it is going down hill for them,just take a look at their finnancess :yuck:
Pff, that is no argument. West European finances are bad as well...Take Germany for example. When did they ever have such high unemployment rates ??? You will have to look prior to Hitler...

marlon

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
The success of the corporations is a direct measure of the decrease in the quality of life for the individual. Many Americans don't work so hard because they want to; its because they have no choice. This happens because the labor laws for salaried employees are a joke. It usually goes like this: There is no limit to what an employer can expect from a salaried employee. If one objects to the work load on the basis that one can't possibly do the work in eight or even twelve hours a day, then you are subtly given the option to leave. The cold hard fact is that someone out there is hungry enough to put up with the abuse, so if you want your job, shut up and do the work. This is one reason that I work for myself. If I have to work long hours at least I can be the one to profit from it. In short, Americans are becoming slaves to the corporations.

One of the judges nominated by Bush and stonewalled by the Democrats believed that we should eliminate all labor laws.

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Ivan Seeking said:
The success of the corporations is a direct measure of the decrease in the quality of life for the individual. Many Americans don't work so hard because they want to; its because they have no choice. This happens because the labor laws for salaried employees are a joke. It usually goes like this: There is no limit to what an employer can expect from a salaried employee. If one objects to the work load on the basis that one can't possibly do the work in eight or even twelve hours a day, then you are subtly given the option to leave. The cold hard fact is that someone out there is hungry enough to put up with the abuse, so if you want your job, shut up and do the work. This is one reason that I work for myself. If I have to work long hours at least I can be the one to profit from it. In short, Americans are becoming slaves to the corporations.

One of the judges nominated by Bush and stonewalled by the Democrats believed that we should eliminate all labor laws.

Actually labor laws in general are quite loose. Basically, many of the "laws" we think of (ie amount of break time given in a day, etc) are actually artifacts of Labor argreements with Unions that have just become industry standards. The problem is that there were not a lot of white collar unions (actually were there any? I just said not a lot because I am unsure). The major labor laws these days are mainly to do with harrasment, safety/injury, benefits, etc. Things that are mainly periphery to actual work (other than workplace safety). The company my father works for actually looked into this kinda stuff since they didn't want to be breaking any laws. They run a twelve hour swing, (sidenote- I worked there for a couple of summers and loved the 12 hour swing. Four days working, Four days off, a beautiful thing) and wanted to know if there were laws for how many breaks they needed to give since it takes a minimum number of people to work the line. Once again digressions... sorry.

Ivan Seeking said:
This happens because the labor laws for salaried employees are a joke.

No kidding !
Few weeks ago Wal-Mart closed their Quebec store because workers voted for union.

Evo said:
We make the same amount of money no matter how many hours we work. It's a different work ethic, usually you work until it gets done.

Its not a different work ethic, its that we have a work ethic.

JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
spender said:
No kidding !
Few weeks ago Wal-Mart closed their Quebec store because workers voted for union.
That has nothing to do with it.

Unions cost $$, and Wal-Mart runs a tight cost budget. They probably couldn't afford the union because they know it would spread and cost more$$$. It was a smart business decision. It does pay to reward employee's, but this only works in non-unionized environments. I work in an unionized environment, and yes it has its advantages, but I know that they don't protect good workers. I am naturally a good worker, but they do nothing for me. Being a good worker already secures your job. I've experienced both sides, and it really depends on management in the end. It's all about management and if they decide to boost employee morale, in which case they never want to. spender said: No kidding ! Few weeks ago Wal-Mart closed their Quebec store because workers voted for union. You are an ignoramous. Walmart does not pay their employees on a salary(not the ones that would want to unionize anyway). Thats not even remotely connected to labour laws for salaried workers. And quite frankly, the people working at walmart are being payed a fair wage for their work. Rule of thumb: If a monkey can be trained to do it, you don't deserve union type benefits for that labour. Of course that means Microsoft employees are far over paid, but thats not really the point. nameta9, companies don't need to threaten or abuse their employees. Moonbear is right - Americans really are that driven/competitive. So if I worked in a company where people work 9 AM to 8 PM and decide to leave everyday at 5 PM they would keep me? Even if I am very good at my job? Or would they just increase my workload to make it reach 8 at night? When I was given the freedom to work at a client on my own (as a programmer) I actually could pull off 5 hour work days because the hours I worked there where very concentrated and I didn't waste any time so I could have more free time. I guess a Boss in a big corporation wouldn't care how good the work done was, just that you are there up to night so he can see you. nameta9 said: So if I worked in a company where people work 9 AM to 8 PM and decide to leave everyday at 5 PM they would keep me? Even if I am very good at my job? Or would they just increase my workload to make it reach 8 at night? When I was given the freedom to work at a client on my own (as a programmer) I actually could pull off 5 hour work days because the hours I worked there where very concentrated and I didn't waste any time so I could have more free time. It varies from field to field. The bottom line, workers on a salary (a fixed amount of money per year) generally work until their job gets done. If they get their day's worth of work done in five hours, they're done in five hours. If it takes twelve, it takes twelve. We work until the job is done. I guess a Boss in a big corporation wouldn't care how good the work done was, just that you are there up to night so he can see you. No, thats not how it works, unless you want to be fired. You're missing the point, number of hours worked isn't what's important, its that the job gets done (again this is for salary). Well, i shouldn't say the number of hours worked is unimportant, but its not the determining factor. "Work until the job gets done" is very ambiguous in the end because you as a boss can always say "why didn't you write the same program in C++ instead of leaving at 5 PM?" Or as soon as a bug pops up you didnt' do your job because you left at 5 PM instead of 8 PM. I think the problem is that there is no precise measure as to what work and most office work is worth today except that the boss has to see you there, and if you leave earlier you're a criminal. I read of people working on projects that took 70 hours a week for months and were fired anyways because the project tanked... russ_watters Mentor Wal Mart is actually a great example: its an extremely successful company but it has extremely high worker satisfaction. No, Ivan, corporate success and worker dis-satisfaction (exploitation) do not go hand in hand. This isn't 1920 anymore. Astronuc Staff Emeritus Science Advisor russ_watters said: Wal Mart is actually a great example: its an extremely successful company but it has extremely high worker satisfaction. No, Ivan, corporate success and worker dis-satisfaction (exploitation) do not go hand in hand. This isn't 1920 anymore. By some standards, Walmart is successful. It has grown and made the family and a few others very wealthy. However, at the moment, as an equity, WMT represents a poor investment - dividend is approx. 0.67% of share price (based on$0.36/share at $53.10), earnings per share is 4.54% - not spectacular (and is certainly not reflected in the dividend) (data from Thomson). The share price has remained relatively flat or somewhat decreasing since last 1999. For the general common stock investor, there are much better investments. But then - Connecticut lawmakers were outraged Thursday to learn that a state program meant to help poor families is footing the healthcare bills of workers for some major companies, led by Wal-Mart. from http://hr2.blr.com/Article.cfm/Nav/5.0.0.0.32276 [Broken] Then there is the Wal-Mart discrimination lawsuit. I think if you take aside some Walmart employees - away from the job, you'll find that things are not so rosy. Fear of retaliation is a concern. Last edited by a moderator: member 5645 Astronuc said: By some standards, Walmart is successful. It has grown and made the family and a few others very wealthy. However, at the moment, as an equity, WMT represents a poor investment - dividend is approx. 0.67% of share price (based on$0.36/share at \$53.10), earnings per share is 4.54% - not spectacular (and is certainly not reflected in the dividend) (data from Thomson). The share price has remained relatively flat or somewhat decreasing since last 1999. For the general common stock investor, there are much better investments.

But then -
from http://hr2.blr.com/Article.cfm/Nav/5.0.0.0.32276 [Broken]

Then there is the Wal-Mart discrimination lawsuit. I think if you take aside some Walmart employees - away from the job, you'll find that things are not so rosy. Fear of retaliation is a concern.

For the longterm there may be no better investment on the market than walmart because of it's steady slow growth. Walmart won't be going belly up anytime soon as they move more and more into international ventures.
But then again, the term "general common stock investor" is quite subjective, isn't it?

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Astronuc
Staff Emeritus