Working hours

The following working hours data are taken from ONS datafile Actual weekly hours of work: People (not seasonally adjusted) May 2016, and the equivalent at June 2014. Data are for the whole UK.

Average for year July 2013 to June 2014

  • Number of men employed 15.64 million; number of women employed 13.55 million (includes full time and part time workers).
  • Hours worked per week by men: 595.6 million
  • Hours worked per week by women: 378.8 million

Table 1: Average hours worked per week per person (June 2014)

(hours) Full time Part time Second job
Men 39.5 16.2 10.4
Women 34.4 16.0 8.7

Average for year April 2015 to March 2016

  • Hours worked per week by men: 608.9 million
  • Hours worked per week by women: 393.9 million

Table 2: Average hours worked per week per person (March 2016)

(hours) Full time Part time Second job
Men 39.1 16.2 10.0
Women 34.0 16.2 9.0

The trend in average hours worked per week since 1997 is shown in Figure 1. Whilst women’s average working hours have not changed, men’s have been trending down. This is not due to the 2008 recession. The trend started well before that. Whilst the reason for the decline in men’s working hours has not been definitively established, one may observe that this is what would be expected to accompany a reduction in marriage rates – because men tend to prioritise paid work even more when married.

If classical economics applied, the alternative explanation for men’s reducing working hours, namely that the demand for men’s labour has declined, would be ruled out. This is because a reduction in demand would be accompanied by a reduction in pay rate, but the real-terms pay rate is actually higher now than in 1997 (see Figure 6 in Hourly pay rates). However, it is possible that the operation of the minimum pay statute has subverted this reasoning so it is possible that the decline in men’s working hours is demand-side driven. (This would align with the conclusion for the USA in Wayward Sons).

Figure 1

Trend of working hours since 1997

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