William McGaughey, formerly an accountant who read Monthly Labor Review and other such publications, was author of the book, "A Shorter Workweek in the 1980s', whose economic analysis of work-time changes inspired a new generation of shorter-workweek enthusiasts. He was also coauthor with Eugene McCarthy of the 1989 book, "Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work". More recently, he created and maintained the multilingual website, http://www.ShorterWorkWeek.com. He is an active participant in the Shorter Work Time discussion group.
Some facts and figures about work timeby William McGaughey
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This book contains a number of tables relating to work time in the United States, primarily since 1947 but also in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The general conclusion is that the historic reduction in hours work characteristic of industrial societies has ground to a halt in the United States though not in many foreign countries.
The book also contains statistics about holidays and vacation time, including international comparisons. It shows how Americans gained leisure in earlier periods of time in various forms.
The key to understanding work-time issues is the productivity equation: Output equals average work hours times employment times labor productivity (which is an index). Changes in one or several variables affect the other variables.
The shorter-workweek argument suggests that employment and average hours are inversely related if output and productivity are constant. Alternatively, if output and employment are constant, productivity and average hours are inversely related. Hours need to decline to offset rising productivity in order to stabilize employment.
In the absence of declining work hours in the United States, the statistics show that employment has risen modestly and labor productivity. However, there has been a huge increase in output, suggesting that Americans are becoming much more prosperous. Of course, that isn’t true. Real wages have stagnated in the past forty years. This book suggests a reason for the discrepancy.
The final section of the book includes a number of examples indicating the effect of shortened work time on employment, price levels, real wages, productivity, energy consumption, and national competitiveness. Most are several decades old since the United States has not recently experienced hours reductions. For that type of information, you might have to go to China.
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