Americans don’t work long hours by the standards of other countries. One analysis showed over a dozen countries had populations that worked harder, based on weekly hours. Colombia topped that list at nearly 47 hours a week. Most of the other countries with long work hours were in Latin America.
In the United States, work hours vary by job. Among the jobs where people work the longest are long-haul truck drivers, firefighters and agricultural workers. In some of these, people are paid overtime for their work. In others, they are probably not.
Another cut that can be taken at work hours is by geography, both at the state and city levels. Using metro area-level census data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the U.S. cities with the longest workweeks. Because working-day length can vary considerably for U.S. service members, metro areas where 10% or more of the labor force are in the military were excluded from analysis. In every metro area on this list, the average workweek is more than 39 hours and 30 minutes in length.
Most of the cities with long work hours are in the South. Among those, we considered 11 in Texas. In these places, workers are more likely to hold full-time jobs, defined as 35 hours or more per week by the Census Bureau.
Employment in the cities we looked at also tends to be concentrated in industries that typically have longer than average work hours. These sectors include resource extraction, utilities and manufacturing.
The city with the longest work hours is Odessa, Texas. Here are the details:
- Average hours worked per week: 42 hours, 48 minutes
- Average travel time to work: 24.5 minutes
- Income per capita: $28,582
- Largest private industry: Mining, logging and construction (21.7% of total employment)
In Odessa, the average workweek is almost 43 hours in length, by far the longest of any U.S. metro area and four hours longer than the national average. Mining, logging and construction has the longest average working week nationwide of any sector. It is also the largest sector in the Odessa metro area by employment, accounting for more than one in every five jobs. Nationwide, the same sector accounts for only about one in every 18 jobs.
Odessa’s job market is weak. As of August 2021, 8.8% of the local labor force were unemployed, well above the 5.2% national jobless rate. For those who are working, wages tend to be relatively low, despite longer working hours. The average income per capita in the area is just $28,582, well below the $35,672 national average.
Methodology: To determine the city with the longest workweeks, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed one-year data on mean hours worked per week among full-time and part-time workers from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS). Metropolitan statistical areas were ranked based on the mean usual hours worked for workers age 16 to 64. Only cities where employment in the armed forces constitutes less than 10% the labor force were considered.
Supplemental data on employment by industry, as well as national estimates of average hours worked per week and average hourly wage by industry, came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for 2020. Data on mean travel time to work, per capita income and armed forces employment came from the 2019 ACS.
In the case of a tie, the metro area with the longer average commute time ranked higher.