Many Americans view hard work as the path to achieving the American Dream. We work so hard, in fact, that we put in more hours at our jobs than several other industrialized countries. The average U.S. worker puts in 1,779 hours per year – 135 hours more than the average in Japan, 241 more than the U.K. and 393 more than Germany. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have adapted to work from home, which can end up extending work hours even further.
But some U.S. cities represent the strong work ethic that helped to build the world’s biggest economy better than others. In order to determine which cities outwork the rest of America, WalletHub compared the 116 largest cities across 11 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the employment rate to average weekly work hours to the share of workers with multiple jobs.
Hardest-Working Cities in the U.S.
Direct Work Factors
Indirect Work Factors
|3||Virginia Beach, VA||75.46||5||15|
|6||San Francisco, CA||73.81||6||42|
|9||Corpus Christi, TX||71.63||9||99|
|14||Sioux Falls, SD||70.12||14||60|
|16||Fort Worth, TX||68.69||15||53|
|17||Salt Lake City, UT||68.50||35||4|
|23||Oklahoma City, OK||67.76||13||71|
|32||Colorado Springs, CO||65.34||40||23|
|37||Kansas City, MO||63.80||42||30|
|42||San Jose, CA||62.27||39||61|
|47||Jersey City, NJ||61.61||48||51|
|48||Des Moines, IA||61.13||52||67|
|51||St. Petersburg, FL||60.74||41||95|
|54||El Paso, TX||60.02||56||73|
|56||Little Rock, AR||59.86||47||116|
|59||San Antonio, TX||59.54||49||96|
|61||San Diego, CA||59.01||51||82|
|65||St. Louis, MO||58.49||71||21|
|66||Fort Wayne, IN||58.11||63||75|
|67||St. Paul, MN||58.03||81||5|
|69||Santa Ana, CA||57.51||57||92|
|73||Chula Vista, CA||55.78||72||62|
|79||Long Beach, CA||54.44||75||70|
|80||Los Angeles, CA||54.40||76||65|
|90||New York, NY||51.07||92||48|
|96||North Las Vegas, NV||48.88||90||98|
|101||Las Vegas, NV||47.26||96||100|
|106||Baton Rouge, LA||44.74||106||107|
|108||New Orleans, LA||43.76||104||104|
|109||San Bernardino, CA||41.80||109||86|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Employment Rate Over Time
Ask the Experts
The American work structure contrasts with that of other countries. For additional insight, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in with their thoughts on the following key questions:
- Research shows that Americans work 25% more hours than their counterparts in Europe. Why do Americans work so much more, and is it worth it?
- Research points to an increase in the average workday length since March last year. What factors do you think prompted this change when working from home (no commuting, having difficulty in drawing the line between work and home etc.)?
- Does working more hours always translate into higher productivity? Does this vary by industry or job type?
- What is the ideal number of hours to work per week?
- What policies should governments and firms adopt to improve the quality of life of American workers?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine where the hardest-working Americans live, WalletHub compared 116 of the most populated cities across two key dimensions, “Direct Work Factors” and “Indirect Work Factors.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 11 key metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “hardest-working.” Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available only at the state level.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
For our sample, we ensured that at least one city from each of the 50 states was represented. Each city refers to city proper and excludes the surrounding metro area.
Direct Work Factors – Total Points: 80
- Average Workweek Hours: Triple Weight (~36.92 Points)
- Employment Rate: Full Weight (~12.31 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Civilian Population Age 16 and Over Employed / Total Civilian Population Age 16 and Over in Labor Force.
- Share of Households where No Adults Work: Full Weight (~12.31 Points)
- Share of Workers Leaving Vacation Time Unused: Half Weight (~6.15 Points)
- Share of Engaged Workers*: Half Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of employees who are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace,” as defined by Gallup.
- Idle Youth (16-24) Rate: Half Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: This metric measures the rate of residents ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor working.
Indirect Work Factors – Total Points: 20
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Share of Workers with Multiple Jobs*: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as a percentage of total employment.
- Annual Volunteer Hours per Resident: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Share of Residents Who Participate in Local Groups or Organizations: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Average Leisure Time Spent per Day*: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Travel Association, Gallup, Social Science Research Council and Corporation for National & Community Service.