Last month's research report on work-hours for high-paid salaried workers from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth paints a picture of a nation where even the winners are losers.
Historically, the best-off salaried workers in America worked the shortest hours ("banker's hours" used to mean short days). But on the way to neolibertopia, the hours of the rich and the poor have swapped places: the poor, hourly waged workers struggle to piece together enough hours to make ends meet (fighting with employers who want to avoid the threshold at which they have to treat their hourly employees with a modicum of fairness). The best-paid salaried workers, by contrast, work longer hours than at any time in American history.
What's more, the better off the salaried worker, the longer their hours. Men work longer hours than women. Higher-paid men work longer hours than lower-paid men.
(One omission in the research is the possibility that waged workers are also putting in very long hours, but doing so at two or more jobs.)
This intra-occupational income inequality means professional offices are able to demand longer hours even from highly paid workers, and these workers are willing to oblige. Because if they don't, there are plenty of lower-salaried people just waiting in the wings to take their jobs.
This is all a pretty straightforward formula for driving hours through the roof — for the people who can actually get work.
On the other end of the spectrum, many people aren't allowed to work longer hours. Because workers can be so easily replaced, employers are free to put people to work sporadically and chaotically, especially in low-income service sectors. Racial minorities and African-Americans especially tend to be the first ones pushed into the surplus labor pool when this happens. Mothers, who still basically get no support from the U.S. government, are also forced to tap out of the workforce to take care of their children.
The economic causes and consequences of long work hours [Washington Center for Equitable Growth]
How insane work hours became a mark of American privilege
[Jeff Spross/The Week]