Keeping Track: working hours

Virtually unchanged since 1989 for households

We've all heard the tales from the treadmill. Americans have been working more and more hours each day. Right? A new study offers a somewhat different view: True, the total time householders spend at work has gone up since 1989, but only by a matter of minutes, according to the Washington-based Employment Policy Foundation (EPF).

The organization says Americans' collective perception of time pressure can be attributed to factors outside the workplace, such as longer commutes. The household with the greatest daily increase in work hours: dual-earner married couples with children - the highest-educated group - who work a total of 23 more minutes a day. All other household types had daily increases of nine minutes or less. One registered a decline.

While household working hours held steady, the EPF says, there were marked changes in the proportion of hours worked by men and women.

Women's share of labor-force participation has climbed steadily over the past few decades. Women now account for 42.8 percent of all working hours (up from 29.4 percent in 1962), while men contribute 57.3 percent (down from 70.6 percent), according to the EPF.

Another major social change in the workforce: the number of working single fathers. They represent the fastest-growing "family" demographic group in the workforce - rising from 569,000 in 1975 to 2.1 million in 1998, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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