Thought Leadership


Do economic woes make people work harder, longer?

July 25, 2012
KEYWORDS hours / unemployment / wage / worked
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computerAccording to the International Business Times (UK):

1. Germany

Average working hours per week: 25.6
Average wage per hour: $35.33 (7th highest)

2. Netherlands

Average working hours per week: 25.7
Average wage per hour: $42.67 (4th highest)
2011 unemployment: 4.4%

3. France

Average working hours per week: 26.8
Average wage per hour: $34.26 (8th highest)
2011 unemployment rate: 9.3%

4. Austria

Average working hours per week: 27.5
Average wage per hour: $36.63 (6th highest)
2011 unemployment rate: 4.2%

5. Belgium

Average working hours per week: 27.8
Average wage per hour: $38.90 (5th highest)
2011 unemployment rate: 7.2%

Global recessions place extra pressure on each person to ensure his/her job remains safe and one of the easiest ways to do that is ensure extra hours worked. Curiously, some developed nations showed trends in the opposite direction, a new report reveals.

Financial news provider 24/7 Wall St. has released a list of ten countries where people work the least, on the basis of their analysis of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) 2012 Employment Outlook. According to the report, which discusses the condition of labour markets across 32 countries, most of which are in Europe, the average hours worked per year has fallen by more than 20.

However, over the last couple of years, people in the United States have been putting in more hours at work, as have people in Spain (although this was only in 2011), the journal reports.

"The average American worked 1,797 hours in 2011, or about 34.5 hours per week. In the countries on our list, the average hours worked was 1,611 or less, or the equivalent of 30 hours per week. In Austria, the average employed person worked just 1,330 hours, or a bit more than 25 hours per week," the report said.

The journal also concluded that people in Denmark and Luxembourg showed a decline in average hours worked by 40 and 51 respectively, over 2010 and 2011.

One of the reasons for the fall in hours worked was that these countries showed greater numbers of part-time workers in the working population. This is also one reason why the US showed an upward trend - only 12.6 percent of the total workforce work part-time in the country.

Unsurprisingly, most developed and wealthier nations feature on the list of top ten countries where people worked the least in 2011.

"Generally, richer countries can and should see reductions in hours worked ... basically, you have stronger productivity performance and eventually you're replacing workers with machines, which allow you to cut back on the number of hours of work," Mark Keese, head of the OECD's employment division was quoted as saying by 24/7 Wall St.

International Business Times UK

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