Editor: we updated this work in 2014 and broke down the data by hours worked. Please read that piece as well.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” Wise words from a man who died with the equivalent of $1,000,000 in today’s dollars worth of debt – but his words still ring true today.
I tried to find data on the amount of hours worked per week broken down by individual income. Let me save you some time: that data is nowhere to be found, at least not simply. I can tell you this… the average American private sector worker works 34.3 hours in an week. I can also tell you that the average American worker making an income from $100,000 to $149,999 puts in 45.09 hours in a usual week, 34.3% more than the average worker making between $10,000 and $19,999. So I ask you, dear reader, how many hours a week do you work
One of the reasons higher earners are so successful at earning money is the sheer amount of time higher earners spend at their jobs. For every income bracket that I looked at, the next higher income level worked more hours on average. (To reproduce my data set, toss out earners below $10,000 and those who worked 0 hours from 2010-2011 CPS data at IPUMS-CPS).
Source of Data
Miriam King, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.
If You Work Hard, You’ll Earn More Money
People who earn more are also working more hours in a usual week than those who are making less.
When we talk about raising taxes on the ‘rich’ or the ‘top 1%’, it’s good to consider that the reason a lot of people are in that position is due to their incredible work ethics. For every Russell Simmons and Kanye West, who no longer have to work 40+ hours a week, there are loads of Americans still putting in more than their fair share of time at the office.
So, readers, how many hours do you work in an average week?