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The American Workday, By Profession 146

Posted by timothy
from the fingers-to-the-bone-but-very-slowly dept.
An anonymous reader writes NPR has created an interesting visualization of workday data from the American Time Survey. It shows what the typical working times are for each profession. You can see some interesting trends, like which professions distribute their work throughout the day (firefighters and police), which professions take their lunch breaks the most seriously (construction), and which professions reverse the typical trends (food service). "Still, Americans work more night and weekend hours than people in other advanced economies, according to Dan Hamermesh and Elena Stancanelli's forthcoming paper (PDF). They found that about 27 percent of Americans have worked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at least once a week, compared with 19 percent in the U.K. and 13 percent in Germany."
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The American Workday, By Profession

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  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:29PM (#47777161) Journal

    Still, Americans work more night and weekend hours than people in other advanced economies,

    I believe the correct definition of an advanced economy is one which enables, empowers, and encourages a worker to be fully engaged and continuously productive at all hours of every day of the week, maximizing shareholder value and business agility while minimizing costs.

    Question for the reader: Am I joking, trolling, or serious?

  • Seems good to me. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:33PM (#47777219)

    The summary makes it sound like a bad thing. To me, it indicates an economy that doesn't roll up the sidewalks at 5pm. It takes a lot of service jobs to keep businesses open 24 hours. It's great that I can go out and buy a Big Mac and a lawnmower at 3am.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Greed drives extra hours, plain and simple. If it was a shopkeep deciding to keep his store open to let folks buy stuff on his own time that's one thing but that's now how it is, it's some employer deciding to keep doors open all the time to get that extra X percent of revenue. The people who decide the hours don't work them.

      It gets worse when you consider that a lot of jobs aren't even full time, so people have to work weird shifts to keep those doors open at all costs.

      Labour Day is just around the corner

      • You are saying that a store employing people and adding the convenience for customers to shop after work is a bad thing?

        I know a lot of employees that prefer hours like this because of family life.

        Additionally, at my job, the overnight shift is a coveted position. It's easier work and it pays more

        • by s.petry (762400)
          It's one thing to be compensated more for working an off hours shift. It's quite another to be paid minimum wage and either work the shift or get fired. The majority of the jobs where people work holidays and off hours is the latter, not the former.
      • I just typed up this long thing about how when my husband and I both had "day jobs," it was a godsend for us to have a day off and things still be open, or for things to stay open say an hour longer than normal so that we had time to go there after work. But then I realized; that was back before we had debit cards, Amazon Prime, Peapod, online inventory checking, etc. Back when we actually had to drive to the bank and then the store, had to drive around to places looking at prices and models available.

        So
      • by khallow (566160)

        Greed drives extra hours, plain and simple. If it was a shopkeep deciding to keep his store open to let folks buy stuff on his own time that's one thing but that's now how it is, it's some employer deciding to keep doors open all the time to get that extra X percent of revenue. The people who decide the hours don't work them.

        Something has to keep those shops open to provide us with valuable services. "Out of the goodness of their hearts" doesn't work.

        I make it a point not to patronize businesses open when they shouldn't be

        And I make it a point of not having my code of morality decree when a shop should be open.

      • I'd do it as mandatory triple pay for anyone working on a secular U.S. holiday: Memorial, Labor, Thanksgiving. The only people who need to be working are police and emergency services, and we can pay enough in taxes to cover this.

        I know, some people want to work on holidays, and some businesses want to be open. But it's too easy to coerce an employee who doesn't work into working, so laws that mandate "employees can't be punished for refusing to work" are harder to enforce than those that mandate "triple

        • Somebody's got to keep the electricity running. There's actually quite a lot of stuff that has to be staffed 24/7/52.14.

    • If that qualifies as great then I'm breathless in anticipation of your definition of freakin' awesome.
    • This COULD be a bad thing. A good economy is one that maximizes productivity while helping workers find a work-life balance. If this trend continues, soon we are going to see an increase in the number of people with illnesses related to stress/fatigue etc. Besides, it could also be due to the fact that american workers have lesser bargaining power than workers in other nations. Again, I am not saying all of this is all good or bad. There are obvious benefits with our capitalist economy as well. Just that we
      • by khallow (566160)

        A good economy is one that maximizes productivity while helping workers find a work-life balance.

        Real life is way ahead of you. The reason most workers don't have "work-life balance" is because they don't want it as much as they want other things.

        • It seems to me the problem is that there is no trade off continuum, it's a binary choice. Either I can have a well paid job and not enough free time, or I can be poor/unemployed.
          • by khallow (566160)
            It doesn't seem that way to me. I think a lot of people here on Slashdot have figured out the life-work balance that's good for them in their current situation. Maybe we could do an "Ask Slashdot" thing here.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Exactly. If you work in the service industry, you should be prepared to work when the people who aren't in the service industry are not working. Shops that close at 6 PM every night are at a severe disadvantage, at least when it comes to getting my business. As are shops that refuse to open before 9 AM. If you're only open the hours I'm at work, I'm not going to shop at your store.
      • by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @04:16PM (#47778337) Homepage Journal

        If you're only open the hours I'm at work, I'm not going to shop at your store.

        This is my problem, too. The problem is that companies not only expect you to to work late into the evening "when necessary", meaning on days that end in "y", but they also expect that the fact that you worked a 20 hour shift on Monday does not mean you can come in late on Tuesday, and you certainly cannot expect to be allowed to take a half hour to go run some errands during the day, unless you are willing to give up your lunch hour to run those errands instead of maintaining your health so that you can be a more productive employee.

        • by Draknor (745036) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @07:33PM (#47780155) Homepage

          And unions are bad again... why?

          (making a generalization - I don't know if tompaulco has ever said anything about unions or not.) Many posters comment on this extreme power dynamic differential that they are at the short end of, but then no one seems to be in favor of unions. Not saying unions aren't without their problems, but the simple fact is the only thing that can effectively fight organized bureaucracy & greed (like management) is ... more organized bureaucracy & greed (in the form of unions).

          My $0.02, anyway...

          • by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @08:59PM (#47780779) Homepage Journal
            I think unions were great at busting up some frankly inhumane hiring practices. These days, it seems like you need a union against the union as the percentage they take from you is probably about equal to the percentage cut you would have to take if you didn't have the union backing you.
          • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@@@gmail...com> on Thursday August 28, 2014 @10:50PM (#47781333) Journal

            I see unions like judges -- as a foundation of a democratic society.

            They can both be corrupted by money, be involved in organized crime, but can also make a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands by Doing Their Job (TM). Removing judges causes anarchy (the problem they were designed to fix) and removing unions concentrates wealth in the hands of a few non-working people (the problem they were designed to fix). If we look around, union membership is at an all-time low and we have wage stagnation. Coincidence [epi.org]? In countries with higher union participation, you also see benefits like mandatory paid vacation, wage growth, and single payer healthcare.

            People can argue whether or not union Foo is good or bad (just as we can with a given judge), but unions themselves are a necessary tool in combating the abuse of people by those in corporate governance through elections.

          • Unions are corrupt, here is a link in case you've forgotten what they're all about. [google.com] Note that's a news link, and it stays fresh day after day after year after year. There will always be stories there. Unions are the wrong solution to the problem. Concentrated power attracts corrupt assholes and just makes things worse.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Right. The US isn't an "advanced" economy, but a service economy. All the 24-hour stores and phone lines are manned by humans working night shifts.
    • by Miser (36591)

      Signed in to say that there's something to be said for rolling the streets up at 5/6pm. Ever been to an Amish community? Everything is pretty much closed at 6pm, sans a few stores that aren't exclusively run by Amish folks. I know it really shocked me the first time I encountered it.

      Maybe we shouldn't be able to buy a lawnmower at 3am?

      • by khallow (566160)

        Maybe we shouldn't be able to buy a lawnmower at 3am?

        Any reason why shopping for a lawnmower at 3am somehow is a moral quandary? What is so magical about that time that we should keep people from shopping for lawnmowers?

        • by radl33t (900691)
          the cost of infrastructure required to do so is inefficient.
          • by khallow (566160)
            So we make it more efficient to buy a lawnmower at 3am by making it a moral wrong? I'm not seeing the connection here.
        • by Miser (36591)

          Maybe we shouldn't be able to buy a lawnmower at 3am?

          Any reason why shopping for a lawnmower at 3am somehow is a moral quandary? What is so magical about that time that we should keep people from shopping for lawnmowers?

          I'm not saying we should keep people from doing so, I'm saying they shouldn't be able to (the store isn't open). There's a difference IMHO.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Honestly the only complaints my friends had who worked third shift was that bars were not open. Talk about sharia law.

      The other complaint was that they were too often scheduled for third shift one day, then second shift the next day. I know that with scheduling software that ignores human needs and only factors in minimizing labor costs this has become more of an issue.

      I completely agree that an 24 hour economy can be more efficient than one that is not. OTOH, we are seeing that places like McDonald's

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If the inalienable FSM-given right to buy a lawnmower at 3 a.m. is so important to you, then perhaps in the internet age there could be more efficient ways of allowing that, rather than paying a million wage slaves to keep hundreds of huge stores open, lit, staffed and heated all night long?

  • So how in the world did a diverse field like IT get lumped together with Mathematics of all professions? And does it seem to me that calling the IT industry "Computers" is a backslide to the early 80's?
    • From an outside perspective, the things that IT people do might as well be summarized as "Computers".
      • From an outside perspective, the things that IT people do might as well be summarized as "Computers".

        Just a guess, but perhaps they didn't think to do cluster analysis within each broad job category.

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        those things that run hypervisors for my virtual servers and network appliances, right? Yeah we call in service techs to replace or repair those sometimes, doesn't seems to affect my servers any.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I read TFA and now I have an inexplicable hankering for Arbys

  • Bah ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @03:04PM (#47777563) Homepage

    The hookers come out at night to screw their clients, the stock market guys get up early to screw all of us.

    Everything in the middle depends on who your clients are, and type of industry you're in.

    Educated people see daylight (or get paid a premium), less educated get shift work.

    I don't even need to read TFA to know these things. ;-)

    And, yes, I'm mostly kidding.

  • TFA bad at math? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @03:08PM (#47777609)

    Look at the graph in TFA. Only 35% are still working by 5pm. By contrast, 45% are working by 7:30am. So...why isn't the "standard workday" the 45%-to-45% mark of 7:30-4:30?

    • Because the graph breaks it down by occupational category, rather than by population within a category.

      A friend of mine once said that it was a travesty that 25% of the vehicles on the road were SUVs. Another claimed that this was sensible, as there were four categories: cars, trucks, vans, SUVs. The second person assumed an even distribution among vehicle classes, which is obviously untrue.

      You are assuming an uniform distribution of professions where none exists; there are likely more people in "manageme

    • by pavon (30274)

      Commenting to undo accidental moderation. But since I have to say something anyways...
      It makes since that they would draw 9-5 on the graph, for easy comparison and that they would label it the standard workday, since that is what is traditionally been considered as such. But I have no clue how they could look at that graph and come to the conclusion that most people still work from 9-5, as the article text claims.

  • I worked for a public utility at a water treatment plant. The plant operated day and night, every day. The shifts changed every month and there was a especially bad shift when I worked three PMs and two nights, the next shift was the same 3/2 with different days off. .The most difficult time in my life. I would tell my sons to be patient with me when I was being rude or not rational. Any shift workers out there?
  • coordinated work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @04:10PM (#47778275) Journal

    Lots of construction work is only safe to do when the crew is working together. You can't have people single-lifting things that require team lifting. You can't have a truck, pallet jack, front loader, paver, or crane operator running heavy equipment in confined areas without spotters and such. A roofer needs nails and shingles brought up to be efficient. Getting to lunch at the same time is good safety and good business. It's not just a union thing.

    • Lots of construction work is only safe to do when the crew is working together. [...] It's not just a union thing.

      It's certainly a something thing. Here's a conversation I had with a construction worker in NY:

      Me: Hi, how's it going.

      Construction worker: I'm having my lunch [As in: Go away].

      Me: Mind if I grab a seat? [There wasn't any other seating, this being the point of the attempted conversation]

      Construction worker: CAN'T YOU SEE I'M HAVING MY LUNCH?

      I just assumed it was some kind of union thing, they're being paid to eat but not anything else, so if I want to ask whether I can grab a seat I have to do it during paid work hours.

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