The U.S. cities with the strongest (and weakest) work ethic

Americans work hard as a rule – putting in 1,780 hours of work a year, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s 70 hours more than the average Japanese worker, 424 than the average German, and 266 than the average Briton. But what American cities have the strongest work ethic? WalletHub compared the 116 largest cities across ten key metrics.

WalletHub used “Direct work factors” and “Indirect work factors” to make their determination, which each worth a certain number of points.

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Direct factors included: average workweek hours, unemployment rate, share of households where no adults work, share of workers leaving vacation time unused, share of engaged workers, idle youth (people aged 16-24 neither in school nor working).

Indirect factors included: average commute time, share of workers with multiple jobs, annual volunteer hours per resident, average leisure time spent per day.


All but one of the Top 10 cities are west of the Mississippi and all states had varying changes in unemployment rates since 2009.

One thing’s for sure, though: these cities are working hard. Expert Jeffrey M. Stanton, Ph.D. and professor of Information Studies, Syracuse University, had a message for Wallethub for the country’s overachievers:

“Certainly it is difficult for someone to routinely work a 10 hour day and maintain peak performance. This probably does vary by sector, however, and there are certain jobs or professions where long hours may mean more productivity. For many jobs, though, peak productivity has probably passed after just a few hours at work unless breaks and meals are structured in a way that helps people to recharge.”

Top 10 cities

  1. Anchorage, AK     79.03
  2. San Francisco, CA     75.37
  3. Irving, TX     75.33
  4. Virginia Beach, VA     74.95
  5. Plano, TX     73.97
  6. Denver, CO     73.70
  7. Aurora, CO     72.87
  8. Austin, TX     72.50
  9. Cheyenne, WY     72.40
  10. Sioux Falls, SD     71.96

Bottom 10 cities

The bottom 10 cities (coming in at 107-116th place) clustered around the midwest, the east coast, and had two cities in Vermont – a state with a consistently sky-high unemployment rate since 2009.

Professor Stanton hinted that changes in labor practices had contributed to the decline of some cities. “As a country, I think we are in a difficult time with respect to labor practices for a variety of reasons including the decline of unions,” said Professor Stanton. “Given the wealth disparities in many parts of the country and the great regional variation in unemployment, investment and support of business creation are crucial. But it has to be an investment that supports a diverse range of regions, not just highly urbanized areas.”

  1. Toledo, OH     43,67
  2. Fresno, CA     43.61
  3. Bridgeport, CT     42.33
  4. Providence, RI     43.26
  5. Columbia, SC     42.28
  6. Newark, NJ     41.26
  7. Cleveland, OH     38.27
  8. Buffalo, VT     33.77
  9. Burlington, VT    32.30
  10. Detroit, MI     31.93

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