If you feel like your workload has been piling up, you’re not alone: even as employment has remained dismal, GDP has rebounded to nearly pre-recession levels, Mother Jones reports in a new piece about the American workday.
That means that fewer people are doing the same amount of work. In fact, productivity has consistently risen since the 1980s— this isn’t a recent trend, it’s just coming to a head.
According to Mother Jones, a speedup comes from a time when people worked on factory lines. When a big order came in, the bosses would just crank up the speed of the conveyor belt. “Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) watched for and negotiated over it—and, if necessary, walked out over it,” MoJo says. “But now we no longer even acknowledge it—not in blue-collar work, not in white-collar or pink-collar work, not in economics texts, and certainly not in the media (except when journalists gripe about the staff-compacted-job-expanded newsroom).”
Americans work 122 hours per year more than the British, and 378 hours more than the Germans. It’s not because companies had to tighten their belts during the recession and “make do”—corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report.
The thrust: It’s not just low-paid wage slaves; it’s not just doctors and lawyers, it’s bus drivers, construction workers, teachers, air traffic controllers. It’s everyone.
The whole piece is worth a read as well as the accompanying first-person stories of overwork.