The headline of the article at the Wall Street Journal reads:
"Americans Working Less; Watching More T.V."
And there's a picture of Jane Jetson lounging with her robot maid while a robot vacuum cleaner vacuums.
Except that the article, the title, the picture, the first few paragraphs, are completely misleading!
If anyone actually bothers to pull up the original study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010 American Time Use Survey, you will discover that the basic introduction to the article is so incomplete that it might as well be a lie!
The article claims that people are working less these days:
"Between 2007 and 2010, the average number of hours Americans work on a weekday fell 26 minutes to just three hours and 58 minutes." It then goes on to state accurately that: "The main reason, not surprisingly, is the recession, with higher unemployment and involuntary cuts in hours."
But the impression has been made: American workers who claim that they are working longer and harder, looking for jobs, and basically struggling are actually spending less time working and more time lying on the couch watching the tube! So why should the right-wingers who own and read the Wall Street Journal care two bits about the lazy "average" American?
Except it's not true.
The article cites an average based on the total "civilian noninstitutional population" 15 years of age or older. Indeed, if you count everyone in that "civilian population", you will find that people, on the average, are working less than 4 hours a day. But that total includes the 14 million who are unemployed, the 9 million who are working part-time and want full-time work, and the additional 6 million who "want work". And all of those who are retired, looking after kids, or going to school.
Again, the "less than four hours a day of work" makes sense if you consider all of the people who aren't working (for pay) at all.
So.. are we really working any fewer hours than we were back in 2007 when times were reasonably good?
Well, not really.
The average full-time worker works 8.0 hours a day, and 8.17 hours each weekday. In 2007, the average full-time worker worked 8.05 hours a day, and 8.24 hours each weekday. The average full-time worker is working a grand total of 4 minutes less each day than he/she was in 2007.
An average man working full-time in 2010 works 8.17 hrs on an average day and 8.56 hrs on an average weekday. In 2007, the average man working full-time worked 8.21 hrs on an average day and 8.65 hrs on an average weekday.
An average woman working full-time in 2010 works 7.75 hrs on an average day and 8.16 hrs on an average weekday. In 2007, the average full-time working woman worked 7.81 hrs on an average day and 8.17 on an average weekday.
And about that TV watching?
We watch about 6 more minutes a day than we did in 2007. Not much, considering the number of people that are out of work or working part-time.