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The long and the short of the workweek Weekly hours of work by sector


Not everyone has the same workweek. One factor that determines your working hours is the sector you work in. As the graph above shows, there are substantial differences among sectors, due to both regular hours and overtime. Indeed, in mining and logging, the average workweek is over 47 hours long. At the other extreme, workers in the leisure industry on average work only 25 hours. The latter may be a special case, though, because of the prevalence of part-time work. Generally, the service sector has an average in the 30s and the goods-producing sector has an average in the 40s.

But are these differences caused by the specific time period chosen in the bar graph? Let’s see. The second graph looks at four sectors over several decades, and it’s clear that the differences have been there for a long time and seem to be getting even starker.

Maybe these differences are caused by varying reliance on overtime. Unfortunately, we have overtime hours for only manufacturing, which are visible in the last graph. Manufacturing overtime seems to have been trending up slightly over the past several decades, but this is just one of many contributing factors that might explain the workweek differences among sectors. Indeed, manufacturing overtime is only about four hours while the difference in weekly hours between manufacturing and professional and business services is six to seven hours.

How this graph was created: Go to the release table for weekly hours by sector, select “Average Weekly Hours,” select the series you want, and click “Add to Graph.” In the date range fields, select May 2018 and June 2018 for the most-recent data. From the “Edit Graph” panel, go to the “Format” tab and change “Graph type” to “Bar.” For the second graph, use the same release table and set of weekly hours; select the series you want, and click “Add to Graph.” For the third graph, use the same release table but select “Average Ovetime Hours” and the manufacturing sector series.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: AWHMAN, AWOTMAN, CES1000000007, CES2000000007, CES3100000007, CES3200000007, CES4000000007, CES5000000007, CES5500000007, CES6000000007, CES6500000007, CES7000000007


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