The average worker works 32 hours and has done since pretty much all of this century

You might think with all the talk of zero hours contracts and the gig economy that work patterns were changing very fast in the 21st century. They are not. One of the constants in our economy is that we work 30 odd hours a week on average and have done for the last 25 years.

Every quarter the ONS goes out and interviews 40,000 households for the Labour Force Survey. This is a huge and expensive exercise. They ask five questions about actual hours worked over the last week ending the Sunday before the interview. The questions cover hours worked in main job and second job and both paid and unpaid overtime. I have listed the five questions from the actual survey below:

TOTAC1: Thinking now about the seven days ending Sunday the …, how many hours did you actually work in your (main) job/business – please exclude meal breaks?

ACTHR: Thinking now about the seven days ending Sunday the …, how many hours did you actually work in your (main) job/business – please exclude meal breaks and overtime?

ACTPOT: How many hours paid overtime did you actually work in the week ending Sunday the …?

ACTUOT: How many hours unpaid overtime did you actually work in the week ending Sunday the …?

ACTHR2: How many hours did you actually work in the week ending Sunday the [Ref Date] in your second job in total, including any paid or unpaid overtime – please exclude meal breaks?

All the answers to these question get smushed up into one little dataset called “LFS: Avg actual weekly hours of work: UK: All workers in main & 2nd job: SA”. To explain: this dataset is part of the Labour Force Survey and it records answers from all workers, full time and part time, about their actual working hours in the previous week. Hours from their first and second job and including overtime both paid and unpaid.

The results are incredibly steady through 25 years. From 1992 to 2001 this number was constant at 33 hours. Then it dropped to 32 for the last 16 years.

This entry was posted in National politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *