In the late 1800s, the average American worked 12 hours a day and up to seven days a week just to make ends meet. This and other efforts by the labor movement spawned the creation of a federal holiday to honor the contributions of American workers, known today as Labor Day. Although Americans have come a long way from working such grueling hours, they still fall behind other countries when it comes to work-life balance.
According to a 2018 report on work-life balance from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. ranks 30th out of 38 countries based on indicators such as working long hours and time devoted to personal care and leisure. However, based on recent PRRI data, it appears that not all Americans struggle with balancing their personal life and work, as California workers demonstrate.
Californians spend little time commuting, and most report working no more than 40 hours a week. According to the PRRI 2018 California Workers Survey, close to half (45%) of Californians commute for less than half an hour round-trip on a typical workday. About one-quarter (26%) travel between 30 minutes and one hour, while 22% report travel times of between one and two hours round-trip. Few (7%) Californians report travel times in excess of two hours round-trip on a typical workday. In terms of time spent at work, 47% of Californians work 30 to 40 hours a week, while only 7% work 60 or more hours per week.
Most Californians also report being able to take off work for vacations and for personal reasons. Seventy-six percent say it is not difficult to take off work for personal or family matters, while only 23% say it is difficult to do this. A majority (60%) say they or someone in their house took a vacation that was longer than three days, while 39% say that no one in their house took a vacation.
When it comes to prioritizing career or personal matters, most Californians prioritize personal matters. A majority of Californians (88%) say that being a good parent is the most important or very important, and 84% say that having a successful marriage is the most important or very important. Only 57% of Californians say that having a high-paying career or profession is the most important or very important.