“Show Me” Slackers

The average American worker only spends about six hours of an eight-hour workday, not including lunch, actually working, according to a new survey from Salary.com and AOL. Workers in South Carolina, Rhode Island and Hawaii spend the most time working, 6.7 hours per day while those in Missouri do the most goofing off, 3.2 hours per day.


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Missouri Governor Matt Blunt disputes the findings telling the Associated Press “Nobody can match the work ethic of Missourians. This survey, which our busiest citizens did not want to waste their time on, cannot undermine decades of experience. Missouri workers are among the most productive in the world.”

Indeed a study published last year by the Missouri Department of Economic Development found Missouri employees were hard and productive workers.

“It appears to me the Missouri worker is equal to, or slightly higher, in productivity than other workers across the nation in most of the industries (the Missouri study) looked at,” Missouri Department of Economic Development spokesperson Kristi Jamison told the Associated Press.

Salary.com reports that respondents to the survey admit wasting an average of 2.09 hours a day. That is more than double the 0.94 hours human resources managers and employers assume they waste. It is even more than the 1.6 hours they suspect is wasted.

“To some bosses, that’s a startling figure,” Bill Coleman, Senior Vice President at Salary.com states in an article on the web site. “Others, though, will view this extra wasted time as so-called ‘creative waste’ – wasted time that may well have a positive impact on the company’s culture, work environment, and even business results.”

How much time individuals spending working at work depends on a number of factors including: age, industry, and location, but not, surprisingly, gender. Despite the popular perception that women waste more time than men, the study found that both genders waste about the same amount of time at work. As is commonly suspected, younger workers waste more time than their older counterparts. Those born between 1930 and 1949 waste only half an hour a day compared to the 1.95 hours wasted a day by those born between 1980 and 1985.

Workers in different industries also seem to have different work ethics. Workers from the Shipping and Receiving industry are the hardest workers spending 6.3 hours a day working Those in Manufacturing, Healthcare and Finance/Banking industries are a close second, working 6.2 hours a day. Compare that to the 5.5 hours worked by those in the Insurance industry or the 5.6 hours worked in the Public (non-education) sector.

So what is eating up employee time instead of work? More than 44 percent admit it’s surfing the Internet for personal reasons. Socializing with co-workers, the second most popular distraction is reported by less than a quarter, 23.4 percent, of workers. Conducting personal business is a distant third at 6.8 percent.

Employees, however, also blame their employers for wasted time. Almost a third, 33.2 percent, report they don’t have enough work to do. More than 23 percent say they are not paid for the amount of work they do. And 14.7 percent blame their co-workers, saying they distract them.

Unfortunately, all this free time isn’t really free. If the average American worker earns $19.13 per hour, as assumed by the article on Salary.com and wastes 2.09 hours per day, they are paid $5,720 per year for work they don’t do. For the 132 million (non-farm) employees, that comes to a total of $759 billion a year. Something to think about the next time you’re tempted to spend a few minutes surfing or chatting with co-workers.

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