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Businesses Stats The Almighty Buck

In the US, Rich Now Work Longer Hours Than the Poor 311

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-longer dept.
ananyo (2519492) writes "Overall working hours have fallen over the past century. But the rich have begun to work longer hours than the poor. In 1965 men with a college degree, who tend to be richer, had a bit more leisure time than men who had only completed high school. But by 2005 the college-educated had eight hours less of it a week than the high-school grads. Figures from the American Time Use Survey, released last year, show that Americans with a bachelor's degree or above work two hours more each day than those without a high-school diploma. Other research shows that the share of college-educated American men regularly working more than 50 hours a week rose from 24% in 1979 to 28% in 2006, but fell for high-school dropouts. The rich, it seems, are no longer the class of leisure. The reasons are complex but include rising income inequality but also the availability of more intellectually stimulating, well-remunerated work." (And, as the article points out, "Increasing leisure time [among less educated workers] probably reflects a deterioration in their employment prospects as low-skill and manual jobs have withered.")
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In the US, Rich Now Work Longer Hours Than the Poor

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  • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:13AM (#46814659)

    If all you need to be rich is a college degree, then hot damn I'm already rich! When do I get my mansion, limousine and trophy wife?

    It sounds more to me like "the educated now work longer hours", or maybe "the middle class now works longer hours" if you want to keep it related to income.

  • It makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:19AM (#46814715)
    Often part of being poor means having your hours cut on top of already low pay.
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:21AM (#46814737)

    Anyone who thinks it does is pretty ignorant. I don't really care what your definition of rich is.

  • by NIK282000 (737852) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:26AM (#46814791) Homepage Journal

    How about 'People with 60k in student loans work more hours.'

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:32AM (#46814849)
    Well, in a land full of poor people without as much as basic health insurance, being in the top income decile is hardly something that will guarantee you carefree life.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:40AM (#46814947) Homepage
    Poor people may only work 20 hours per week, but i assure you its not fucking apathetic leisure they revel in. These hours have been intentionally redacted by large multinational corporations so as to create a permanent underclass of part time workers that is forced to take on two or three jobs in order to create a normal work week capable of sustaining basic rent and food. their total time spent at different jobs can easily total more than 50 hours per week. They spend long, odd hours standing at bus terminals waiting on neutered public transit systems to get them to starbucks after they work their walmart shift and then later, hopefully, back to mcdonalds to their fry cook job. their 'downtime' is sometimes spent figuring out how to balance getting their kids clothed and their bills paid without taking food off the table.

    The economist is so detatched from the concept of poverty and the culture of indentured servitude in the service sector of the United States as to be bad comedy.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:41AM (#46814955)

    Indeed. Seems "rich" is now is you earn enough money to live decently. That is not the original definition.

    "Rich" usually means "has enough money to live pretty well without the need to be working at all".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:49AM (#46815057)

    Or Obamacare made the cost of a working doing 31 hours a week twice as much as one working 29 hours a week.

    Now who is it again forcing a permanent underclass reliant on food stamps and welfare?

  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:01AM (#46815185)

    Many of the people I work with might be called "high achievers". Whether it is work or school or sports, these people tend to work the hardest and get the best results. Being the best at something requires a commitment - not only of effort but of time. So they work overtime. Not because they are expected to but because they want to. For them the reward is not the overtime pay but the satisfaction in knowing that they have put forth their best effort.

    As others have mentioned, non-degree jobs are often hourly. So any overtime has to be approved. There is a direct link between pay and performance. So you may tend to see fewer people working "off the clock" in these sorts of occupations.

    Personally, I'm in a college educated job but with an hourly rate rather than salary. I have been salaried before and I prefer hourly. Why? Because it is my observation that many companies take advantage of salaried by asking them to work overtime without any compensation. You might get some vague promise of "we'll take care of you down the road" but that rarely pans out.

    To the high achievers I would say this: If you want to work all kinds of overtime because it makes you feel better then knock yourself out. Just don't expect everyone else to follow the same path. Some of us have other priorities.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:03AM (#46815199) Homepage

    You're evaluating the middle income as equivalent as the middle class. This is incorrect thinking.

    Middle Class is not the middle of average income, it is the class level in the middle of the working/incomed classes. To explain further, what you are saying is like stating the top 33% of of Americans are the rich, the middle 33% the middle class, the bottom 33% the working poor class.

    With that logic, the income gap between someone in the working poor and the rich class is a few tens of thousands. Clearly something is inaccurate with your logic. You're essentially saying a $75,000 income puts you into the rich category that includes folks earning $500K - $500 million a year.

    Classes are not defined by quantity, in other words, a feudal system had 3 classes. Peasants, Lords, and field lords (knights and such middle-class). In the break down, 95% or more fell into the peasantry.

    Likewise today,...

    Working Class is by far one of the largest.

    Middle Class is also large, but shrinking. Middle class is defined by a quality of life factor. Usually defined by owning home, reasonably functional somewhat newer vehicles, being able to take a moderate vacation (Disneyworld, international travel, cruise, etc, periodically), having a safety net, retirement accounts, etc. Upper end may have a small vacation home.

    Wealthy Class, usually has multiple homes, travels first class, may own private air or yachts, or other high end expensive recreational items in the $100K+ mark. Often do not have to do work, simply manage investments and resources. Often pays a low margin on taxes due to ability to maximize loopholes, capital gains, etc.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:05AM (#46815221) Homepage

    Most of the poor and starving in Africa and India are not in debt either.... I will call them rich and see how they react.

  • Missing definition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoRdTAW (99712) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:25AM (#46815401)

    Define "rich". Lets get the definition strait here. The only number they threw out in over $100,000 which is pretty vague. Anyone making under 200k/year is not rich. They are in my opinion, comfortable. You are only really rich when you have true wealth such as owning/running a profitable business or real estate that generates income. You are not rich if you are a low level employee who depends on a wage to survive, even if you are making 100k to 200k/year.

    You think my boss works? Of course not. He comes in when he pleases maybe 4 or 5 hours a day. Takes whatever day off he pleases. Takes multiple vacations per year for one or two weeks at a time. His business is firmly rooted in the industry and will continue to make money. He is *RICH*. Not the poor schlubs (like me) working 50+ hours a week and certainly not the low wage help getting 10-12 an hour. He is like one of those wealthy English aristocrats they speak of. A top dog calling the shots who's hard working underlings produce his wealth for him. I believe he makes around 500-800k/year and has over a million in the bank (accidently saw his bank statement when I worked on his PC).

    And the reality is those living comfortably are working their asses off as in order to justify their 100k+ salary. No employer wants to pay big money unless they feel they are getting their moneys worth. That may mean large work loads, 50+ hour work weeks, unpaid overtime and coming in on weekends to finish up backlogged work. At 100k+ you aren't hourly unless you are union or very lucky. Salary demands a certain number of hours per week to justify your pay grade and some of that includes unpaid overtime. Its not the same for everyone but everyone I know working in tech put in long hours for their 100k plus salaries.

    The "poor" people they speak of have social safety nets in the form of health care, food stamps and rent subsidy and/or low income housing. But I believe they are being unfair as I know plenty of "poor" people who are struggling just to buy food and pay rent. A friend of mine had a tough life growing up, mother threw him out when he was 16, father doesn't give a damn about him, etc. No college and not the sharpest tool in the shed but he is an honest, good hearted person who is a hard worker. He works two minimum wage part time jobs for 60 hours a week with no days off as the two shifts overlap each other. He rents and shares a room at a "frat house". Place is more like a flophouse complete with drug dealer and rowdy parties which he winds up playing bouncer so the cops don't raid the place. Its a rough life for him but he works and doesn't give up. Many others are in the same boat making shit pay and having to work multiple jobs because employers don't want to pay benefits to full timers.

  • by Bite The Pillow (3087109) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:26AM (#46815409)

    Economists tend to use proxy measurements instead of doing a new survey measuring exactly what they want to talk about. It saves time and money. In this case, college educated people do tend to make up more of the upper and upper middle classes, so it is not a terrible proxy measurement.

    Further, it avoids the immediate dismissal based on "author drew an arbitrary line that supports his idea." There is no argument about who is rich. Lots point out student debt, but miss the point that when it is paid off the educated have higher salaries and can catch up more quickly.

    That said, there are so many oversimplifications in the article it is nearly pointless. Most notably, few people earning in the "rich" bracket get paid hourly overtime and decide "to work the extra hour." In USA, they are exempt, and have to work a minimum of 40 hours, usually slightly more. Most hourly jobs do not pay well, and do not give you the option for overtime regularly, and frequently give 30 hours to avoid giving full time benefits.

    There is no mystery here that requires the input of an economist to solve. Obvious statistics answers it. The explanations apply to a very small percentage.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:27AM (#46815423) Journal
    Maybe, but I know what it's like to live with dirt floors, without any running water or even a well in your yard. You can check it out, but in all likelihood you are probably already in the 1% [globalrichlist.com], so yeah you are rich.

    Yeah, your rent is higher, but you are probably so rich you turn on the faucet and pour potable water down the drain waiting for it to heat up, without even thinking about it. Most likely you have carpet or wood floors, not concrete or dirt. If you live somewhere hot in the US, you probably have air conditioning. You probably have a car. You probably never worry about not having enough food. You can go on vacation in Hawaii if you feel like it.

    If you have a median US college degree income and you don't feel rich, it's only because you've gotten used to the feeling of being rich, just like we've all gotten used to the feeling of electric lighting, but that is magical.
  • by ottothecow (600101) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:48AM (#46815617) Homepage
    Overall in the US, 10% is something like a hair under $150k per household. So it can really depend on your situation.

    A single 25 year old earning 150k is probably feeling pretty good, even living somewhere like NYC.

    But a household with two earners in their 40s and kids that makes 150k definitely counts as middle class. Certainly not on the low side of middle class (and in cheap areas, definitely doing pretty well), but its not like they are going to be overflowing with disposable income. Life isn't bad--which it shouldn't be for the middle class--but you aren't going to be retiring early and spending lots of time at that vacation home in the south of France.

  • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:48AM (#46815621)

    This issue is far too complex to express in a single variable such as hours worked. The poor have less access to child care, for example, and are more likely to be in single-parent households. Recall the woman (Charlene Dill) who died in Florida a few weeks ago? Much has been said on the left and right about her case (because she fell into the insurance "donut hole" created by Florida's refusal to accept federal money to expand Medicare) but the fact remains she was working 3 part-time jobs trying to make ends meet, while trying to raise 3(?) kids on her own. That's a tough row to hoe, by any standard.

    And her story is hardly unique in these times. Real wages have been flat for three decades, while worker productivity has steadily risen over the same period. Meanwhile, CEO pay is through the roof, corporate earnings are better than ever, and effective tax rates on corporations and the wealthy elites are lower than ever. There is no longer any room for doubt that we are living in a plutocracy, not a democracy. [upi.com] And according to a recent NASA study, [theguardian.com] that is a prime indicator that we are a society on the brink of collapse.

    These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."

    ...

    Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."

    ...

    "While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory 'so far' in support of doing nothing."

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:07AM (#46815763) Homepage Journal

    Throughout history, the defining characteristic of the powerful versus the powerless has always been "works to earn a living" versus "Has others work to earn a living for them." I'm always hesitant to bring up that distinction in political discussions, because some disingenuous asshat will be inclined to pretend the meager(and temporary) social safety net the US provides is a living, which makes it impossible to actually discuss that separation.

    The key is, once your lifestyle is secure, you can fully focus your efforts on expansion, rather than maintenance, letting you play social climber, investor, or entrepreneur with much greater freedom. And that last one is a good thing, as long as the first two don't represent a rent-seeking upper class that threatens to topple the entire social structure of the nation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:17PM (#46816921)

    the so called poor in this country have had free health insurance since medicaid came in many years ago. Plus children whose parents make 50% more than the poverty line have had free heal care under the child health plus program for nearly 20 years. The media and progressives have painted a very distorted picture of the so called "poor" in America. I have been a NYC teacher for nearly 15 years. Immigrant children who parents work low wage jobs work hard in school (if the teacher does their job and contacts parents) while subsidized american kids are lazy, lazy, lazy. Regardless of race. Their parents make nothing but excuses for their kids. I have been called a racist by African American parents and I am African American . These so called "poor" kids wear fancy sneakers, always drinking take out food and the worst have no concept of money at all. They want to turn the A/C unit on in the winter when the heat is coming on too high.
      HEALTH INSURANCE does not make healthy people. My wife did her medical residency in the Bronx NY. As a resident doctor, she treated many medicaid diabetic patients. These patients never followed doctors orders and every few months they would be back in the hospital for complications. The children of these people suffer at home.

The only problem with being a man of leisure is that you can never stop and take a rest.

Working...