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Businesses Stats The Almighty Buck

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

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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:13AM (#46814655)

    Not starving to death on the street certainly, but most bachelors degree holders aren't tooling around on their private yachts either. Calling these sorts of people rich by the standards set it most developed countries is a load of crap.

    • by Enry ( 630 ) <enry@wayga.QUOTEnet minus punct> on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:16AM (#46814677) Journal

      I consider myself middle class, but by income standards I'm in the top 10% of income earners in the US. And I don't have a mansion or yacht.

      • by BreakBad ( 2955249 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:28AM (#46814815)

        Mansion / Yacht are status symbols of the 80's/90's. You probably have a 3 or 4 character twitter account name.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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

      • Even the %1 are not "rich" by most people standard, just well off like you. In Quebec, Canada, last year if you made over a 100k annually you were in the top %1 earner. Here, a 100k is very much possible for good SE after a few years of work in the right industries. Welcome to the 1%!
        • In the US, the top 1% starts somewhere just under $350,000 in 2009 (down from $380k in 2008) - I couldn't find a reliable source for more recent data. That's really not that high, considering the majority of people in the 1% are also in areas with the highest cost of livings. I'm not saying $350k isn't enough for a life of relative luxury, but they're also not the ones with private yachts, planes or a dozen vacation homes.

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            You are confusing Rich with "ultra rich"

            If you are one of the snobbish rich that say you are not rich but you have a nanny for your kids.... Oh sorry, an Au Pair, Nanny sounds so pompish... Then you are rich.

            The fact that your income each year can put 10 families into homes and feed them IN THE USA is another good example of you are actually rich.

            Yes, $25K a year is enough to put a small very poor family in a crackhouse apartment and feed them.

          • In the US, the top 1% starts somewhere just under $350,000 in 2009 (down from $380k in 2008) - I couldn't find a reliable source for more recent data. That's really not that high, considering the majority of people in the 1% are also in areas with the highest cost of livings. I'm not saying $350k isn't enough for a life of relative luxury, but they're also not the ones with private yachts, planes or a dozen vacation homes.

            The "top 1%" is, by definition, 1 out of 100 people. Does anyone seriously think that 1 out of every 100 people would be rich enough to own private jets and a "dozen vacation homes"? Imagine the way the economy would have to work for that to happen -- every 99 people have to work hard enough to generate enough wealth to pay the other 1 guy enough to buy lots of vacation homes and private planes. Does that sound like the math would work out?

            Or, just think about your high school class. If you graduated

      • That's great but it's not based on what you think, it's based on your income.
      • If you don't mind me asking, what part of the country do you live in, that your income bracket of 10% is considered middle class? I'm curious, because I believe that income standards and costs of living tend to be far more sticky than we as a society care to admit.
        • by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:48AM (#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 Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <Xaedalys@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:56PM (#46816749)
            Your points are well taken. By way of comparison, I make $70K, am single with no dependents, and I reside in the greater Seattle area. I can be counted as middle class for Seattle, but for everywhere else I'd be upper middle class (possibly upper class dependent on the area). When I look at my monthly costs & budget, then compare where I currently live versus a place with a lower cost of living, I realize that I've got to stay in the Seattle region. The cost of living is higher, but the pay is commensurately higher, which allows me to continue paying on my student loans. I feel that reinforces your point about the household with two earners in their 40's. Once I get my student loans paid off, then I can afford to move to a less expensive locale where my salary will decline, but the other costs should decline even more. I'll still be considered middle-to-upper-middle class due to spending & saving habits, plus education, even with the decline in salary.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:41AM (#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".

    • Agreed. It's a shame; if the submitter did not use the word "rich" so inappropriately, we could have a meaningful discussion about why people with a degree used to work less and now have to work more, and maybe what could be done about that.

      I think the reasons are the consumerism (also in regards to homes and college degrees) and unpaid overtime, and the solution is to actively run away from both if your time is valuable to you. Buy what you can afford, don't waste money excessively only because credit is a

      • by xclr8r ( 658786 )
        A lot of people (in the U.S.) in middle class are classified as exempt (from overtime) as they are in management. There are FSLA rules that regulate the hours exempts work but since they are management they are project driven and no one who wants to climb the ladder is going to report working extra hours all the time.
  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:13AM (#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.

    • by NIK282000 ( 737852 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:26AM (#46814791) Homepage Journal

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

    • by Bite The Pillow ( 3087109 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:26AM (#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 @11:27AM (#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% [], 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.
    • Only the super super mega wealthy rich don't really work hard... and even that is purely based on my imagination of how they live.

      Every other person from executives down to managers down to the middle class workers works damn hard. It's one of the reasons I've often turned down the management path. I saw my old managers and I thought, that is not my life.

      It's one of the reasons it is very hard to say raise taxes. People are working so damn hard. 50+ hour week, deadlines, no security... and people want to ta

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )

      Exactly this!

      Strange to me how the middle class has become almost non-existent today, and the term rich has been changed to include the survivors of the destruction of the middle class. Sure, I'm rich to someone making 15,000/yr but I'm not 'rich' by any stretch of the imagination.

      I see this piece as an attempt to keep average people pitted against each other while ignoring the real problem. This link [] is from 2007, and disparity has been increasing for the last 40 years. In the 70s the US ranked 26th for

  • If I reply to an e-mail or write code at night, is that considered work? It's not like I can serve McDonald's or sweep floors or tighten a bolt just after waking up and rolling out of bed. I had yesterday off (I'm in MA) but still put in a few hours of work because there was stuff I wanted to get done.

    • If you are a freelancer, or one of the company owners/founders, and you do that because that's how you prefer to spend your time, then it's up to you whether you count it as work.

      If you have to do this because of your manager's expectations or peer pressure, when you would prefer to do other things, then yes, I would say it counts as work.

      And yes, a lot of our modern "work" is not as physically straining as the jobs 100 years ago, but it is still work, and it may be hard and stressful sometimes.

      The troublin

  • It makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:19AM (#46814715)
    Often part of being poor means having your hours cut on top of already low pay.
  • "Working" (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:20AM (#46814729)
    This submission brought to you by someone who's probably reading /. when they're supposed to be working.
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:21AM (#46814737)

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

  • with telecommuting you can work from anywhere, including home

    VPN, Citrix, web apps all make it easy to work at home. plus side is you can pick your kids up from school and not pay for after school child care

  • And have to ride the bus it's kind of hard to get those extra hours in the rich people do.

  • by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:23AM (#46814763)

    Fuck you and your political baiting, libertarian fantasy world, clickbait, NON-TECH bullshit this last year.

    Where are the smart techies hanging out these days? I enjoy hearing them talk shop.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:30AM (#46814839)

    That article has more holes than my old socks, and it even smells way worse.

    Determining "rich" and "poor" by education is, well, rich. One could also say that the workload on college educated people went through the roof, while low skilled labour was laid off (which is one of the reasons why college boy gets to work overtime since he now has to write his own letters, clean his own desk and empty his own basket).

    Of course that results in way more leisure time for the uneducated. Hey, if you have no job, you have 24 hours of leisure time a day, beat that when you're employed!

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:40AM (#46814943)

    I have more than a few friends on the low end of the pay scale who've been pushed down below 30 hours a week by their employers so their employers stay clear of Obamacare insurance mandates. (e.g., [] ) It usually comes across as a double-whammy: now they have less money in their pockets, and they're still up a creek in terms of health insurance.

    • by Jahta ( 1141213 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:20AM (#46815347)

      I doubt it. In the UK (where there is a well established public health system) employers have been getting increasingly fond of zero-hours contracts [] over the last few years. If you want to talk "double whammy", these contracts not only do not guarantee you any hours in any given week (hence the name) but you are usually contractually forbidden from working for anybody else; you are supposed to be always "on call". So you aren't working many hours, and you're poor. Oh brave new world!

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:40AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 sribe ( 304414 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:27AM (#46815421)

      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.

      While that used to be the case, it's not any more. Now most of those low-paying low-hour jobs are in retail, and schedules change weekly based on projected customer traffic, so workers are told with only a few days' notice which hours they will be expected to work in the coming week, and if they don't show up for those hours, they are fired. In other words, the large multinationals have now succeeded in rigging the game such that these people CANNOT hold multiple jobs any more. Working your ass off at 3 jobs in order to improve your financial position is now literally impossible for many people.

      • I wouldn't necessarily say "succeeded at rigging the game." More likely, they've made better use of data they have available to optimally schedule workers. I can't blame's not Wal-Mart's responsibility to make sure you can work a second job.

        The game is indeed rigged, but in this one instance I don't think it was intentional.

    • Exactly this. I've known more than one person struggling to make ends meet and have heard a number of stories of places like Wal-Mart intentionally limiting a persons hours to avoid having to pay health care or benefits for their employees. Regardless of that employees needs or desires, they may only get 15-20 hours a week. I take it the Economist hasn't looked at other news lately and seen mothers shoplifting school supplies and clothing for their kids.

  • Being educated doesn't make you rich.

    It is not news that people are being required to do more so that the real rich people don't have to hire more workers --- this way they can keep more for themselves!

    The actual rich people that I know do very little if any productive work. They do spend a lot of time talking, delegating all actual work, and pretending they are very smart, though.

  • by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:45AM (#46815009)

    Currently I work around 62 hours a week with a 45 minute a day commute. Presently I consume more than 72 hours of my week either working, traveling to or from work.

    So... when do I get the money? I suppose I could get an extra job on the weekends and see if I could get a full 80 hours a week, but for right now, from 6:30AM to 11:30PM, Monday through Thursday and 6:30AM to 4:00PM on Friday, I am pretty damned busy.

    Not rich by any standard. Have a used car, 60 year old 800 sq ft home, no wife, no kids.

    How others do it on less, I don't know.

  • Okay, first off, if we're talking college educated salaried middle-class workers. We are NOT talking the RICH.

    We're talking about those who basically, live near the same quality of life as the working class, except they receive no government assistance, and basically have more assurances and insurances (ie: have newer cars, have basic life insurance policies, have health insurance, etc). And get to take a vacation once a year.

    That's NOT rich...


    The rich, are working less and less. I remember reading an a

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )
      Heck it isn't even true anymore that getting a bachelor's degree guarantee's that you will receive a middle income salary. At least not a salary that will allow you to live a middle class lifestyle unless your parents were already rich.
  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:01AM (#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.

  • The non-rich the artcle refer to typically can't get full time so companies don't have to pay for health benefits. Most the poor have more than one job, so add up the hours. This article is the fantasy the rich tell themselves.

  • A study in 2006 revealed that Americans with a household income of more than $100,000 indulged in 40% less “passive leisure” (such as watching TV) than those earning less than $20,000.

    I'd rather work for free rather than sit on a couch watching television.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:22AM (#46815381) Homepage

    "A study in 2006 revealed that Americans with a household income of more than $100,000 indulged in 40% less “passive leisure” (such as watching TV) than those earning less than $20,000."

    I can attest, that I work 40, commute 2+ hours a day. While those under $20K receive Section-8, Food Stamps, etc. And yes, they often have more free time to watch TV than I do. I get to watch Game of Thrones & maybe one other weekly show.

    Heck, we had friends who fell on rough times stay in our guest bedroom the past year. And I can personally attest that they've probably watched as much TV in a week or two as I have all year.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      reminds me of something "funny" that happened to be recently.

      I was on the market to buy a house. As it is in many areas, all new developments must have a percentage of section 8 housing.

      There's this new townhouse development walking distance from a main subway line, yet still far enough to be totally quiet, in a prestine neighborhood. The townhouses were between 700 and 850k each. One of them, a 800k single family attached with an indoor garage, an additional off street spot, and a yard....was one of the s

  • Missing definition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:25AM (#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 gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:53AM (#46815659) Homepage
      You have made a bad definition of wealth. The major problem is you have fallen for the common mistake fo measuring wealth by income. A single, healthy childless 21 year old women making $100,000/year is wealthy. A married 50 year old women, with 1 grand child, 4 children, 2 in college, and a husband with dementia is not wealthy.

      The real way to measure wealth is how Forbes does it - not income, but by net worth.

      If your net worth is over 2 million, you are wealthy. If your net worth is more than your age in thousands, you are middle class. Otherwise, you are poor. I don't care if you make $300,000 a year, if your net worth is negative,you are poor.

      A prime example of this is Donald Trump. The man has never been poor, even when his income was negative. Why? Because his assets always far exceeded his debt, even when he was losing money hand over fist.

      By my definition, quite a few people are poor that think they are wealthy - particularly musicians and sports stars that make millions but save nothing.

  • Benefits are about a third of that. Office space, management and computers the rest.Then you make existing employees work more instead of hiring additional ones.
  • This Slashvertisement brought to you by the Koch Brothers. Remember to watch Fox News tonight and be reminded again that the poor live a life of luxury and leisure on your dime! Yeah, the poor are the reason you have to work 75 hours a week. Because the government takes all your money and gives it to the poor, so they can live high on the hog.

    Meanwhile, please ignore the fact that the 1 percent are robbing not only you, but the government, and the rest of the world. While you're arguing with your co-workers

  • "People that don't make a lot of money slack off a lot."
  • The poor are under/unemployed and the rich are trying harder and harder to make more of them under/unemployed.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.