Do You Live in One of the Hardest-Working Cities in America?

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Americans love to boast about their work ethics. After all, working hard is the gateway to achieve the American dream.

According to various stats, the average American puts in more working hours than Germany, Japan, and the U.K. Something to be proud of, maybe. However, if we refer to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data, the average American ranks around 12th for the most working hours per year. People work hard for various reasons, ranging from buying a home, early retirement, or to achieve personal goals. Only some cities, however, have a strong enough economy to provide a fair payback.

In order to identify the hardest-working cities of America, we have looked at various factors such as labor force participation rate, working hours per week, and average working hours per year.

However, it is important to note that in order to work hard, there should be something to work for. A lot of cities missed out on our list because there wasn’t much work available in the city. In some cities, the average working hours were below 25 hours per week – primarily because of the lack of work available.

Some U.S. cities have a stricter work ethic than others. However, each contributes in its own way to help build the world’s biggest economy. Let’s take a look at which cities made it to our top 5 list.


1. Arlington, Virginia

For the second year running, Arlington made it to the top of the hardest-working cities’ list. Arlington’s average worker spends around 41 hours per week and works around 43 weeks per year.

Around 89% of the working-age population contributes to the labor force. The average working-age population contributes over 1,500 of working hours per year. With a population of over 210,000 and a land area of 27 square miles, Arlington is United States’ most heavily populated and hard-working city.

2. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage came second on our hardest-working cities’ list. One thing interesting about Anchorage is that it puts in less working weeks on a yearly basis. The average Anchorage worker puts in around 36 weeks per year, which is ranked the 17th most in the country. However, when they work, they work hard. The average employee here works over 42 hours per week and 1,260 hours per year. It seems like Anchorage knows how to balance work and fun.

3. Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln is 3rd on our hardest-working cities’ list, partly because of the large number of the working-age population contributing in the workforce. According to data, around 86% of people between ages of 17-63 contribute to the labor force. This is the second highest rate in the country. The famous city, named after Abraham Lincoln, contributes 39 working weeks every year.

Lincoln only falls behind the top 2 because of the lower average, as working hours here are short. Usually, the average work week is only 36 hours per week.

4. Seattle, Washington

This green city, famous for its rain and coffee, works hard. According to data, they have the fifth-highest labor participation rate. The work hours per week are around 39. One reason behind such hard work is the city’s high living-cost, which demands such participation. Around 70% of the working-population contributes to the workforce.

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco ‘The City’ has on average 80% of its working population contributing to the labor force. The City’s working conditions are somewhat similar to Anchorage. People here work about 40 hours per week. However, they compensate it by working a less number of weeks per year. Like other major cities, working here is a necessity because of the high-cost of living along with high-income taxes. California has one of the highest income tax rates.


It is important to note that ‘people working harder’ are not equal to people earning more. According to PayScale stats, the average salary in Anchorage is around $64,000 compared to $77,000 in New York for a worker with experience less than 9-10 years.  

However, average working hours and average earning should not be made the basis of any judgment. The culture of working greatly depends on where you live, the standard of living, and other dynamics.

Let’s see how each city contributes in the next year. We will keep our bookkeeping habit kicking to let you know who is leading the race of 2018’s hardest-working cities in America.

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