Economist calls for shorter workweek

Eugene Coyle, a Berkeley, Calif. economist, argued in a recent edition of the political newsletter CounterPunch that the surest way to increase the demand for labor would be to shorten the workweek.

“At the end of the Great Depression, when the nation similarly faced a severe job issue, a new Wages and Hours law in 1940 cut the work week from six to five days, the now standard 40 hours,” Coyle said. “Hours have not been reduced in the 70 years since, despite the relentless gains in productivity.”

South Korea holds the record for length of workday among the members if the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In 2002, workers there toiled 2,390 hours per year. U.S. workers put in an average of 1,777 hours that year, while the French logged a leisurely 1,346 hours and Norwegians built their economy on 1,328 hours.

San Francisco Chronicle