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Report: These are the 5 hardest-working cities in the US

Wallethub compiled the data from 116 of the largest cities across the U.S. to determine which are considered the "hardest-working" in America.
Report: These are the 5 hardest-working cities in the US
Posted at 3:10 PM, Feb 20, 2024

We've all heard sayings about how success and hard work go hand in hand. In fact, work has become such a uniquely American priority that employees here generally log hundreds more hours on the job each year than those living in other developed nations. 

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average American worked more than 1,800 hours in 2022. Work is also Americans' third-largest time-consumer, falling only behind personal care — including sleep — and leisure activities like sports and entertainment. 

"We work more than Europeans for a mix of legal and cultural reasons," said Michael Yelnosky, professor at the Roger Williams University School of Law. "For example, EU countries require employers to provide paid time off for vacations, parental leave, and sick leave. There are no corresponding federal laws in the United States."

But what happens when you break it down to a local level — say, by city?

Using a number of key metrics — including employment rates and average hours worked — Wallethub compiled data from 116 of the largest cities across the U.S. to determine which are considered the "hardest-working" cities in America. And what they found may surprise you.

Source: WalletHub

Washington D.C. topped the list, in part due to having the highest share of workers (64%) who let vacation days go to waste each year. Employees in the nation's capital also logged the third-most hours worked on average per week.

The next four hardest-working cities on the list include Irving, Texas,  followed by Cheyenne, Wyoming, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Anchorage, Alaska. Each of these cities share a low unemployment rate, as well as large populations of working-age adults and an abundant number of jobs.

However, in exchange for being labeled some of the hardest-working citizens in the country, people in these cities also lose some benefits of those located in cities further down on the list. For example, workers in D.C. have relatively longer commutes of more than 30 minutes on average. 

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, about 7% of workers also have more than one job taking up their time. And contrary to popular belief, more work does not necessarily translate to more productivity.

"The cumulative effects of stress, lost sleep, and time away from family and friends tend to mount as the workweek grinds on," said Keith Cunningham-Parmeter, professor at Lewis & Clark Law School. "The overworked employee is also an employee who is more likely to burn out, suffer ill health effects, and leave the job."

SEE MORE: The average American won't work for less than $78,645, data finds

Hard work may be one of the many driving factors behind the United States' success on the global economic scale. But Yelnosky added that it's often unhealthy for Americans to metaphorically break their backs in order to convince themselves, or others, that they're dedicated employees who shouldn't be labeled as slackers. 

"Many American workers do not think the long hours are worth it," he said. "According to surveys, many would prefer to work less even if it meant they earned less. There are serious health risks associated with working long hours." 

For the full list of Wallethub's "Hardest-Working Cities in America (2024)," click here.

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