Living to Work, Not Working to Live

Working class Americans are overworked. Each year working people are forced to work more in worsening conditions for a paycheck that has a diminishing value. How many of us work more than 40 hours a week, work on the weekend, or have more than one job, just to make ends meet? Between all the time at the job, taking care of children, and doing what is required to be a working adult, there is hardly any time left over for whats most important of all – life! There is nothing natural about working conditions in this country. We only have to look at working conditions in other countries to see that our conditions are actually some of the worst.

Hours Worked Per Year in the Industrialized World

American workers work some of the longest hours of anyone in the industrialized world.

  • Germany: 1419 hours per year
  • France: 1554 hours per year
  • United Kingdom: 1647 hours per year
  • Canada: 1702 hours per year
  • United States: 1778 hours per year

Vacation Time Required by Law in the Industrialized World

In most countries workers are guaranteed a vacation by law, even though those rights are constantly under attack. In the United States there isn’t even a legal guarantee. Workers only get what their bosses are willing to give them.

  • France: 42 Days
  • Germany: 28 Days
  • United Kingdom: 28 Days
  • Canada: 10 Days
  • United States: ZERO

Productivity and Declining Wages

What do we get for all our hard work? A smaller and smaller paycheck, and a shrinking bank account.

  • American workers produced 80 percent more profits for their bosses between 1973 and 2011, but wages only increased by 10 percent.
  • If the median house income in the United States kept pace with the economy since 1976 it would be $92,000 per year, not $50,000.
  • The wealth of the richest one percent of Americans increased 275 percent between 1979 and 2009 while the wealth of the bottom fifth dropped 7 percent.

Consequences of Overworking

There are consequences to the level of work that American workers experience. Stressful work, no vacation, and the struggle to make ends meet is a major cause of depression and stress in our lives.

  • Only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work.
  • Two-thirds of Americans say that work is the main source of stress in their life.
  • Anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18 percent of the population or 40 million Americans.
  • Ten percent of Americans suffer from depression.
  • The suicide rate in America is the highest its been in 15 years. In 2009, 37,000 people took there life.

Living to Work, Not Working to Live

Our lives do not have to be limited by the demands of work, the boss, and bills. The only people who benefit from this state of things are the very richest in our society. In this country there is more than enough wealth to provide people time to have a life with substance. There is no reason we should accept that our lives are just about work. There is no reason we shouldn’t have time for ourselves and our families. There is no reason we should live to work, and not work to live.